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Defense reigns supreme as football defeats Lafayette 23–2

<h5>The Tigers defense has not yielded any points defensively since first quarter of the win over Lehigh.</h5>
<h6>Courtesy of <a href="https://twitter.com/PrincetonFTBL/status/1579162664680697856?s=20&amp;t=VfTVLIelX67DUfL45xeD9A" target="_self">@princetonftbl</a>/Twitter.</h6>
The Tigers defense has not yielded any points defensively since first quarter of the win over Lehigh.
Courtesy of @princetonftbl/Twitter.

Following an Ivy League-opening win over Columbia (3–1, 0–1 Ivy) on Oct. 1, Princeton (4–0, 1–0) steamrolled Lafayette (2–4, 1–0 Patriot) in a 23–2 win this past Saturday. 

Princeton struck first on their second drive of the game with an eight-yard rushing touchdown by first-year running back Ryan Butler. The drive also featured efficient play from junior quarterback Blake Stenstrom, who completed all five of his attempts for 36 yards on the drive and added an eight-yard rush of his own.

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The Leopards had no answers for Stenstrom and the Tigers on their next drive, as Princeton jumped to a 14-point lead on a rushing touchdown by sophomore quarterback Niko Vangarelli. 

The momentum did not stop there for the Tigers’ offense. A quick three-and-out on Lafayette’s following drive set up Princeton’s final touchdown of the half. This drive featured long completions of 21 and 35 yards to senior wideouts Dylan Classi and Andrei Iosivas, respectively. Butler finished the possession yet again, rushing into the end zone for his sixth touchdown of the season. The Tigers’ single major miscue of the game was when the Leopards netted their only points of the game by returning a blocked extra point attempt, making it 20–2 Princeton heading into the second half. 

In total, Stenstrom went 30–40 for 290 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per completion. Ten of those completions went to Iosivas, who collected 150 yards on the day.

As the game progressed, the Tigers defense continued to dominate. Counting Saturday’s victory, the defensive shutout by the Tigers is at a cumulative 163 minutes, dating back to the first quarter versus Lehigh earlier in the season. 

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“As a coaching staff, we continually stress communication, pursuit, tackling, and takeaways as critical components to our success,” defensive coordinator Steve Verbit wrote to The Daily Princetonian. “We have consistently done those things at a high level throughout training camp and the season’s first four weeks. The key to our success has been that we are playing solid team defense.” 

Against Lafayette, the Tigers’ defense allowed only 206 total offensive yards, with a mere 56 yards allowed in the first half. In addition, the Tigers forced four turnovers in this game, including a third quarter interception by senior defensive back Michael Ruttlen Jr. The other major turnover was a fumble recovery by senior defensive lineman Uche Ndukwe on Lafayette’s second drive of the third quarter.


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The second half featured little to no scoring, with the only three points coming on a field goal from sophomore kicker Jeffrey Sexton to bring the score to 23–2. 

The team now sets its sights on a second-consecutive Ivy League title. With the rest of the schedule being against Ivy League opponents, Princeton will look to move one game closer to that goal against Brown (2–2, 0–1) this upcoming Friday, Oct. 14. 

Cole Keller is a contributor to the Data and Sports sections at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at ck5482@princeton.edu or on Twitter or Instagram @ckeller29.

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