Running game, defense carry Princeton football in win over Lafayette| Oct 12, 2019
In an old school style win, Princeton football (4–0, 1–0 Ivy ) bested non-conference foe Lafayette (0–6) with a combination of suffocating defense and bruising running in a 28–3 win Friday night. The Tigers defense dominated all night, holding Lafayette quarterback Keegan Shoemaker to just 150 total yards and intercepting him twice.
On offense, the Princeton running backs accounted for all four touchdowns while repeatedly running the ball into the teeth of the Cougars’ defense. Junior running back Collin Eaddy rushed 17 times for 89 yards and three touchdowns to lead the way, senior running back Ryan Quigley tacked on 71 yards on 12 carries, and sophomore running back Trey Gray added 32 yards and a touchdown.
The first quarter was a strange one for the Tigers. After junior defensive back Sultaan Shabazz picked off Shoemaker on Lafayette’s second drive, senior quarterback Kevin Davidson found sophomore tight end Carson Bobo for a 24-yard gain to the Cougars’ eight-yard line. After a defensive stand, Princeton’s field goal attempt clanked off the left upright, leaving the Tigers empty handed.
Princeton came up empty on the next drive, too. After forcing a punt, Princeton took over from its own 28. A few plays into the drive, Davidson found junior wide receiver Jacob Birmelin near the sideline, who eluded a few defenders and dove for the pylon, appearing to score. However, he had barely stepped out of bounds at the four, and Princeton was kept off the board as Lafayette stuffed the Tigers on four consecutive plays to force a turnover on downs.
Princeton would finally break through on its next drive. After forcing another punt, the Tigers conducted a six play, 45-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown by Eaddy. That score would hold until 6:22 to go in the half, when Eaddy once again found the end zone, this time from five yards out. The drive was short thanks to a big fourth-and-one stop on Lafayette’s 29-yard line by the Tigers’ defense. Junior linebacker Jeremiah Tyler made a fantastic play, coming off the edge unblocked to stop Cougars’ running back Jaden Sutton for no gain to give the Tigers the ball deep in Lafayette territory.
“I thought the wideout was going to come down on me, so I kind of hesitated, but then it opened up so I took it,” Tyler said afterwards about the play.
The Cougars would tally a field goal, their only points of the game, on their final drive of the half to get on the board. At the break, Princeton led 14–3.
The Tigers would start the second half off strong, grinding out a nine play, 63-yard drive that resulted in, for the third time, an Eaddy touchdown, this time fighting his way in from three yards out.
“He’s done that all year,“ head coach Bob Surace ’90 said about Eaddy’s determination in picking up extra yards against Lafayette. “For a guy who gets these 80-yard touchdown runs, at his heart is this tough, grind-out, make three yards five runner. It’s so beautiful to see as he’s gotten stronger and become that type of player.”
On the very next drive, the Tigers found paydirt again, although this time it was Gray weaving his way into the end zone. The drive included a fantastic catch by senior tight end Graham Adomitis, who snagged the ball about a centimeter from the turf and held on for the 12-yard completion and a first down. It was close enough that Lafayette challenged the play, but the call was upheld. Two plays later, Gray punched it into the end zone from four-yards out.
That would be the final score of the game, as the fourth quarter turned into a battle of the punters, resulting in Princeton improving to 4–0 on the season in convincing fashion.
The second half proved to be very similar to the first half: a dominant ground attack by the Tigers coupled with stout defense. Only one second half drive by the Cougars would result in something other than a punt, and that was an interception by first-year defensive back Jayden Wickware with 58 seconds left in the game.
The Tigers’ ground game was effective all night, taking some weight off Davidson’s shoulders, who had been the driving force in Princeton’s offense prior to Friday. Lafayette’s defense put up a fight, but grew tired from being on the field so frequently. If Princeton’s defensive and running game can keep it up, future opponents will be in for a tough time as well.