In shocking fashion, Princeton football suffered its third Ivy League loss of the season. The Tigers (5-3 overall, 2-3 Ivy League) fell to the Penn Quakers (5-3, 4-1) by an overtime score of 26-23.
With the clock stopped and just four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, senior placekicker Nolan Bieck lined up for a 35-yard field goal which would have clinched a 23-20 Princeton victory. Prior to the play, Bieck had converted a perfect 10-10 on the year with a long of 45. But the homecoming crowd in Franklin Field would not leave disappointed, as Penn linebacker Donald Panciello blocked the attempt to force overtime.
Princeton’s initial drive in the extra period made no progress, leading to a 42-yard field goal and giving Penn a chance to respond with a tying three points or a winning touchdown. It took just two plays for the Quakers to find pay dirt and claim the decisive six points. Penn running back Brian Schoenhauer took the first carry from the 25 to the Princeton 11, with Penn quarterback Alek Torgersen finding Penn wide receiver Eric Fiore to make up the difference.
Princeton holds an all-time 60-41-1 lead over Penn in a rivalry that stretches back to 1876.
The game’s first touchdown came five minutes into the second quarter, with Penn running back Tre Solomon scoring from four yards out to give his team a 10-3 lead. Princeton generally struggled with the Quakers’ rushing attack on the day, allowing 217 yards and 5.6 yards per carry to a combo of five different backs. Through the air, Torgersen was highly efficient against the Orange and Black defensive backfield, amassing 178 yards on 21-27 passes.
Princeton responded to the second-quarter touchdown in short order, managing 73 yards on the ensuing drive which concluded in a four-yard rush by junior running back Joe Rhattigan.
Maximizing the short time remaining in the half, the Tigers dramatically improved their prospects by forcing a Quaker punt and scoring on the ensuing drive — Rhattigan punched it in once again. What’s more, sophomore linebacker Mark Fossati recovered Penn’s fumble on a short kickoff. A field goal taken from its opponent’s 22-yard line gave Princeton a 20-10 lead heading into the half.
The Quakers found the end zone on their first drive of the second half thanks to another short Solomon rush. Having twice traded possession, Penn broke through with a field goal to equalize at 20-20.
On the day, Princeton starter Chad Kanoff, a junior signal caller from Southern California, posted a solid 218 yards on 26 completions of 42 attempts. The return of senior wide receiver Seth DeValve proved a boon to the offense, as the fourth-year powerhouse managed 65 yards on nine receptions.
Despite having his regulation-ending attempt blocked, Bieck’s three successful field goals ties him with Taylor Northrop ’01 for second (38) on the program’s all-time tally. Just seven conversions separate the senior from Princeton’s career record of 45, held by Derek Javarone ’05.
With the loss, Princeton falls to 1-3 in away games, with a blowout 40-7 victory over Lafayette providing the win. The 4-0 home record bodes well for the Tigers’ homecoming prospects, as Yale visits Powers Field for next weekend’s alumni day.
While the Tigers have fallen somewhat short of expectations, Quaker football has been a pleasant surprise for Penn fans. With its only conference loss having come against Dartmouth in its league opener, the side remains in position to make a run at the 2015 Ivy League championship. A matchup next week against juggernaut Harvard will almost certainly determine the outcome of its season.