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Staff Picks: Men’s Football vs Lafayette

Associate Sports Editor Hayk Yengibaryan ‘26 and contributors Harrison Blank ‘26 and Alex Beverton-Smith ‘27 made their predictions for this weekend’s contest.

Princeton will face Lafayette in their second straight home game and their final non-conference game.
Princeton will face Lafayette in their second straight home game and their final non-conference game.
Photo courtesy of @PrincetonFTBL/X

The men’s football team (2–1 overall, 1–0 Ivy League) will face off against the Lafayette Leopards (4–1 overall, 1–0 Patriot League) on Saturday afternoon in their final non-conference matchup of the season. The game will be at 1 p.m., live from Powers Field with streaming available via ESPN+.

Both sides will be looking to add another tally to their win columns. Princeton is coming off a weekend that saw them open their Ivy League campaign with a win against the Columbia Lions. The Tigers struggled offensively until a late drive helped them escape with a 10–7 win. The defense, however, was more than up-to-par; Columbia’s sole score came from a pick 6.

Meanwhile, the Leopards are looking for their fourth win of the season. Since losing to No. 19 Duke in their second game of the season, they have strung together three straight wins, including a commanding 24–3 win over those same Columbia Lions on September 16. 

The last time the Tigers faced the Leopards was early last season. The matchup resulted in a comfortable 23–2 win for the Tigers, thanks in large part to a stout defensive performance. 

Associate Sports Editor Hayk Yengibaryan ’26. Staff Sports Writer Harrison Blank ’26 and Sports Contributor Alex Beverton-Smith ’27 made their predictions for this weekend’s contest.

Lafayette 23, Princeton 16 - Hayk Yengibaryan, Associate Sports Editor 

After three games thus far in the young season, this Princeton team has simply not impressed me. If we take away the last drive of the Columbia game, the Princeton offense was extremely disappointing. Offensive coordinator Mike Willis has a lot of work to do to unlock the true potential of this Princeton offense with senior quarterback Blake Stenstrom at the helm.

While I see the potential for this offense to improve later in the season, I cannot see it happening against a much-improved Lafayette squad. The Leopards are 4–1 on the season and aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. They are coming off a 56-point offensive outburst against Bucknell, and beat the same Columbia team that the Tigers struggled with, 24–3.

This is not the same Lafayette team that failed to score a touchdown against the Tigers at home last season. Sophomore quarterback Dean DeNobile has seven passing touchdowns to go along with three rushing touchdowns thus far this season. Sophomore running back Jamar Curtis has four 100 yard rushing games. Lafayette has a strong wide receiver core as well.

While this Princeton defense has done its job, I don’t see it replicating its performance against a weak Columbia team when faced with this Lafayette squad. Lafayette is off to its best start since 2009, and I expect that to continue on Saturday afternoon. Expect them to come out of the gates strong and avenge last year’s loss by beating Princeton and earning a road win.

Princeton 27, Lafayette 21 - Harrison Blank, Sports Contributor 

Princeton football takes on the Lafayette Leopards after squeaking by the Columbia Lions last Friday night. Thankfully, the Tigers will not need a last-minute fourth down touchdown to come away with a victory this time. The Tigers will end the Leopards three game win streak on Saturday and head back into Ivy League play with momentum.

The Tigers’ offense, hampered by rain in the last two games, will show its true potential against the Lafayette defense. Expect senior quarterback Blake Stenstrom to have a big three touchdown performance that we know he is capable of after leading the Ivy League in passing yards last year with 2,742.

Princeton’s defense has been absolutely dominant since the start of last year. The Leopards will have to deal with an aggressive linebacking corps led by senior linebackers Ozzie Nicholas and Liam Johnson and sophomore linebacker Sekou Roland, whose stripsack-forced fumble sealed the Princeton win last week. The Tigers’ defense will let the offense open up a double digit lead that withstands a Lafayette comeback attempt late in the second half.

All three phases of the Tigers will benefit if the skies stay clear on Saturday afternoon. If Powers Field is dry at 1 p.m., expect to see four mistake-free quarters from a team plagued by weather-induced errors and, most importantly, a huge Princeton victory.

Princeton 17, Lafayette 14 - Alex Beverton-Smith, Sports Contributor

Lafayette has characterized their start to this season in much stronger form than their last. Notably, they beat Princeton’s Ivy League opponent Columbia 24–3 two weeks before the Tigers managed their fourth quarter victory against Columbia 10–7 last week. Expect the Tigers, however, to come out strong as well. Their performances have been building each week after a preseason Ivy-League poll predicted the Tigers placing second.

Important in this game for the Tigers will be restricting Lafayette’s strong offense led by quarterback Dean DeNobile and running back Jamar Curtis. The Orange and Black, however, have plenty of strong offensive players too, with junior running back John Volker standing out as a constant threat in the first few games. He has earned a touchdown in every game this season so far.

The main unknown factor in this game will be the weather. Rainy conditions are currently predicted for the afternoon clash. The Tigers struggled to be effective in the passing game against Bryant in poor conditions. Anything similar to that could limit both team’s playbooks.

I’m expecting a hard-fought clash, with the Tigers’ individual quality ultimately proving to be the decisive factor. This game, however, could swing either way, with both teams hungry for a win after strong season starts.

Hayk Yengibaryan is an associate editor for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’

Harrison Blank is a staff writer for the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’

Alex Beverton-Smith is a contributor to the Sports section of the ‘Prince.’

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