No. 12 Princeton football (7–0, 4–0 Ivy) won its 17th consecutive game Friday night in Ithaca, defeating Cornell (2–5, 1–3) 21–7 to remain undefeated in the season.
With the win, Princeton will go unbeaten into next weekend’s game at Yankee Stadium against Dartmouth, which remained undefeated itself after a miraculous comeback win over Harvard on Saturday.
Last year’s matchup between Princeton and Cornell was a 66–0 Princeton drubbing, but this year’s game was much more competitive. The Big Red held Princeton’s offense in check throughout and kept things interesting until late in the fourth quarter.
Princeton’s offense had more trouble than usual generating momentum early in the game. Two of Princeton’s three drives in the first quarter ended after the Tigers were stopped for no gain on fourth-and-one rushes, and the other ended with a punt. For the first time since October 2016, Princeton failed to score in the first quarter, as the game remained scoreless through 15 minutes.
A Cornell turnover in the second quarter helped Princeton finally get on the board. Cornell running back Delonte Harrell caught a pass, possessed it briefly, then dropped the ball, and junior linebacker James Johnson recovered. Cornell tried to argue for an incomplete pass instead, but Princeton kept the ball, and four plays later junior running back Collin Eaddy found the end zone on a three-yard rush.
Later in the quarter, Princeton went on a 15-play drive, capping it off with a four-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Kevin Davidson to senior receiver Andrew Griffin with less than a minute remaining in the half, giving Princeton a 14–0 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Cornell went on a long drive of its own to make it a one-score game, as the Big Red marched 85 yards and nine plays to score a touchdown on a short rush from quarterback Richie Kenney. Princeton came right back on its next drive, moving the ball into Cornell territory after sophomore wide receiver Dylan Classi caught a short pass and turned it into a 49-yard gain. A few plays later, Eaddy picked up his second touchdown of the game with a four-yard rush to make the score 21–7 in favor of Princeton.
Princeton failed to pull away further in the fourth quarter and committed two uncharacteristic turnovers with an interception from Davidson followed by a fumble from senior running back Ryan Quigley. But Princeton’s defense wouldn’t let Cornell back into the game. Junior defensive back Sultaan Shabazz essentially sealed the win with an interception deep in Princeton territory with less than five minutes remaining, allowing Princeton to run out the clock.
Holding Cornell to seven points represented another strong effort for Princeton’s defense, and once again it was junior linebacker Jeremiah Tyler leading the way. Tyler led Princeton with 11 total tackles, including 4.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks. In addition to his fumble recovery, James Johnson had nine tackles.
Davidson threw for 186 yards on 20 of 29 passing, and Eaddy and Quigley rushed for 95 and 82 yards respectively.
After the Friday night win, Princeton will get an extra day of rest before starting preparations for the biggest game of the season against Dartmouth. Dartmouth looked poised to take its first loss of the season against Harvard, but a last-second Hail Mary gave the Big Green a 9–6 win. Besides its narrow win over Harvard on Saturday, Dartmouth has been one of the most dominant teams in the country — the Big Green entered the weekend leading the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in both scoring offense and scoring defense.