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Princeton football rallies in second half to beat Harvard, remain undefeated

<p>James Johnson tackles Harvard QB Jake Smith in the first half of Princeton's win over Harvard.</p>
<h6>Photo Credit: Jack Graham / The Daily Princetonian</h6>

James Johnson tackles Harvard QB Jake Smith in the first half of Princeton's win over Harvard.

Photo Credit: Jack Graham / The Daily Princetonian

No. 13 Princeton (6–0, 3–0 Ivy) remained unbeaten on the year and moved one step closer to earning a second consecutive bonfire with a 30–24 win over Harvard (4–2, 2–1) on homecoming weekend. 

Harvard pushed Princeton to its limit, stifling Princeton’s run game and sacking senior quarterback Kevin Davidson four times. The Tigers trailed at halftime, and the six-point win was Princeton’s first single-digit margin of victory all season.


Ultimately, however, the Tigers prevailed with a strong defense and an efficient offense, forcing Harvard to commit three turnovers while committing none themselves. That made all the difference, as Princeton scored 17 points off those turnovers.

“We’ve played Harvard 10 times [while I’ve been coach], and most of them have been like this,” Princeton head coach Bob Surace ’90 said. “You respect your opponent, because they’re giving it their all, [and] we’re giving it our all. As a competitor, this is what you live for.”

The Tigers got it done behind senior quarterback Kevin Davidson (20–35, 312 yards, three touchdowns), junior running back Colin Eaddy (20 total touches, 141 yards, two touchdowns), and sophomore receiver Dylan Classi (seven receptions, 107 yards, two touchdowns), as well as a defense that intercepted Crimson quarterback Jake Smith three times. 

Princeton got off to a hot start, scoring the game’s first 10 points on its first two possessions. The first drive was capped off by a 13-yard strike to Classi, who made a leaping catch over a defender to haul in the touchdown. The next drive started with a leaping pick by junior linebacker Jeremiah Tyler and ended in a field goal for the Tigers.

Harvard would stop the bleeding, blocking a kick on the next drive to keep the deficit at 10. On its first possession of the second quarter, Harvard drove 66 yards to score in six plays, including a bizarre 11-yard catch by receiver Cody Chrest, who had the ball fall into his hands after it deflected off a defender’s chest. Harvard punched home a touchdown two plays later.

Princeton blocked a 41-yard field goal try on Harvard’s next possession, but found itself trailing at halftime after Crimson receiver Jack Cook caught a pass off a short out-route and took it 73 yards down the sideline with less than a minute remaining in the quarter to put Harvard up 14-10 at the break.


Princeton struggled to start the second half, getting stuffed on fourth down on its first two possessions. That would all change when, after the second turnover on downs, sophomore linebacker Daniel Beard picked off Smith on Harvard’s first play, setting up the Tigers in Crimson territory. On the very next play, Davidson found Eaddy over the middle for a 31-yard touchdown to put Princeton back on top. Although Harvard blocked the extra point, Princeton took a 16–14 lead with 7:09 to go in the quarter, marking a significant turn in momentum.

“Once you get a turnover, momentum shifts and then we can take advantage of it. You know the first call after the pick, it was a touchdown. It’s extremely important, especially in these types of games,” Davidson said.

The Tigers struck again on their next possession, with Eaddy collecting his second straight touchdown, this time on a one-yard rush. The drive was highlighted by a diving catch by Classi, who got just behind a defender and hauled in Davidson’s pass for a 22-yard gain, allowing Eaddy to score on the next play to put Princeton up 23–14. 

Harvard would answer on its next possession, powering in a rush from two yards out to cut the deficit to 23–21 with 14:53 left to play. After trading punts, Princeton put themselves in position to seal the game after junior defensive back Matthew Winston snagged an interception to set the Tigers up at Harvard’s 18-yard line. Princeton would capitalize just three plays later. Davidson rolled to his left, evaded two would-be tacklers, and found Classi in the end zone again to give Princeton a 30–21 lead with just 3:16 to play.

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Harvard tacked on a field goal to make it a one possession game, but failed to recover the onside kick. The Tigers lined up in victory formation, sealing the win and their 6–0 start to the year.