Princeton (5–0 overall, 2–0 Ivy League) played its first road Ivy League contest of the season against the Brown Bears (1–4, 0–2) in Providence on Saturday afternoon, winning 56–42 in an exciting matchup that saw over 1,000 yards of combined total offense between the teams.
The Tigers amassed 650 total yards on the game, and senior quarterback Cole Smith nearly reached the school single-game passing record of 501 yards. With 476 yards and 25 of 27 passes completed, he had the second most passing yards in a single game in Princeton history.
Targets were split well between junior Andrei Iosivas, senior Jacob Birmelin, and senior Dylan Classi, with all three wide receivers cracking 140 yards. Iosivas scored two touchdowns and Birmelin, who came into the game leading the Ivy League in receiving yards, became the 15th Princetonian to surpass 100 career receptions in a 175-yard outing.
Senior running back Collin Eaddy also came within one touchdown of tying the school record for rushing touchdowns in a game, with 130 yards on 15 carries and a career-high four scores.
As for the defense, the opposing team was able to find success offensively for the second week in a row. Coming into the game, the Tigers were giving up 194.5 yards per game defensively (1st in FCS) and 8.8 points (2nd). Brown was able to eclipse both of these totals in the first half, coming up with 21 points and 213 yards. The Bears finished with over 400 yards of offense, the first time Princeton has given up more than 300 yards this season.
Brown had the ball first, but a penalty and a sack by junior line backer Cole Aubrey forced the Bears to punt. The Tigers wasted no time marching right down the field, as two big completions down the right sideline to Classi and Iosivas brought Princeton to the Brown 14 yard-line. A pair of completions to Birmelin inched the Tigers closer to a first down, and a big fourth-down run from Eaddy allowed the Tigers to move the chains inside the Brown five-yard line. On the next play, quarterback Smith found senior tight end Carson Bobo in the end zone for Bobo’s first touchdown of the year, giving the Tigers a 7–0 lead.
A sack from junior defensive lineman Carter Christopher killed Brown’s next possession, which lasted all of 63 seconds, and senior running back Trey Gray picked up a tough first down for the Tigers to start off their next drive. Smith then found Classi for a 22-yard completion down the right sideline. Smith, Eaddy, and first-year running back Ja’Derris Carr all got into the mix in the running game, as the Tigers continued their march deep into Brown territory.
Brown’s Cam Gagnon was able to sack Smith at the Brown 30 yard-line, forcing the Tigers into a 3rd-and-19, but Smith found Iosivas for an acrobatic touchdown grab down the left sideline and expanded the Tigers’ lead to 14–0. On the first two drives of the game, Smith completed all nine of his passes for 122 yards passing and two touchdowns.
The Brown offense responded well on the next drive, as two quick passes and a run from Brown quarterback E.J. Perry brought the ball inside Princeton territory. Perry then found Brown’s Mark Mahoney for a 23-yard pass down the right sideline. Later on, Brown gained another big chunk of yardage on a completion between Perry and Chris Boyle, bringing the Bears to the Princeton 7 yard-line. A few plays later, Perry found Graham Walker in the end zone for a Brown touchdown, cutting the Princeton lead to 14–7 early in the second quarter.
Eaddy got going on the next possession, picking up a first down before Smith found Iosivas twice to get the Tigers to midfield. The passing game continued to dominate the Brown secondary, and Classi got some serious separation from the Bears’ defenders on the next play, as Smith found him streaking down the right sideline to give Tigers a 50-yard touchdown and a 21–7 lead.
Brown once again found success on their next drive. Two more big rushes from Perry brought the Bears to the Tigers’ 30 yard-line, and then a creative shovel-pass screen from Perry to running back Allen Smith brought Brown to the Tigers’ 12 yard-line. On the next play, Perry located receiver Wes Rockett in the end zone to cut the lead to seven once more with 7:03 remaining in the second quarter.
Brown continued to have no answer for the Tigers offense, as two passes to Birmelin and a big rush from Eaddy brought Princeton to the Brown 34 yard-line. Two plays later, Iosivas walked into the end zone on a slip screen from 34 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The score was the Tigers’ fourth touchdown in as many drives, and it gave them a 28–14 lead.
Defense continued to falter on the ensuing Brown possession, as Brown marched methodically down the field, picking up a fourth-down conversion before Perry found Rockett once more to bring the score back to 28–21 with 23 seconds remaining.
After kneeling to end the first half, the Tigers received the ball to start the second, and two big runs by Eaddy and Cole Smith got the Tigers into Brown territory one minute into the quarter. A long completion over the middle to Birmelin pushed the Tigers further into Bears territory, and two plays later Eaddy scored his first touchdown of the game on a five-yard rush, taking a 35–21 lead.
Brown added to their 75 first-half rushing yards on their next possession, as Allen Smith continued to slice through the Tigers defense. Princeton was able to get a stop, however, when junior defensive lineman Uche Ndukwe brought down Perry for a third-down sack. A pair of Birmelin grabs brought Princeton to the Brown 48 shortly afterwards, and the drive culminated in a 15-yard rushing touchdown for Eaddy, his second of the day. The lead was 42–21 with 5:37 left in the third quarter.
Allen Smith once again found success rushing the ball on the next Brown possession, but Brown was eventually forced to punt. Cole Smith found a diving Classi for 41 yards on the first play of the ensuing drive. The Tigers weren’t able to score on this drive, though, as Brown’s Joe Shell returned a Cole Smith fumble for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 42–28.
The seemingly endless third quarter resumed with Cole Smith finding Birmelin for a 66-yard completion that brought the Tigers all the way to the Brown nine yard-line. Eaddy picked up his third touchdown of the quarter on the next play, giving Princeton an immediate response to the turnover and a 49–28 lead. Through their first eight drives, the Tigers had accumulated seven touchdowns and 573 yards of total offense.
To start the fourth quarter, Perry found Rockett for Rockett’s third touchdown of the game, once again cutting the Princeton lead back to 14 points. Iosivas and Birmelin continued to frustrate the Brown defense, and Eaddy scored untouched from 37 yards out for his fourth touchdown of the second half, giving the Tigers a 56–35 lead and Eaddy a new career high.
As the game wound down towards the end of the fourth quarter, junior defensive back Ken Lim intercepted Perry in the end zone and junior Will Powers had a 75-yard punt that was downed at Brown’s one yard-line. But Brown ended up closing the gap to 14 points one last time on a passing touchdown to Hayes Sutton with seven seconds left in the game. As the clock hit triple zeroes, the Tigers secured the 56–42 win, bringing them to 5–0 (2–0) on the season. The win brings the Tigers’ winning streak against Brown to five games.
The flow of the Tigers’ second Ivy League matchup of the year was in stark contrast to their opening contest against Columbia. Instead of a slow, attritional, grind-it-out game, the matchup versus Brown was free-flowing and full of highlight-reel plays. The Tigers also got most of their offense through the air against Brown, as opposed to the largely running game-based game plan they employed against the Lions. The 650 total yards more than doubled the offense’s total during the Ivy League opener.
The tougher portion of the Tigers’ schedule will begin next week, as they host Harvard at Powers Field. The Crimson is tied with Dartmouth and Princeton at the top of the Ivy League and defeated Brown by a comfortable 32 points earlier this season. They will be coming off a 30–3 win against Lafayette.
Wilson Conn is a staff writer for the 'Prince' sports section. He can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter at @wilson_conn.