Bill Foran got away one too many times (CREDIT: Princeton Athletics)
Princeton 42 Columbia 32
Why Princeton Won
They played to their strengths and didn't roll over when it looked like they had lost all momentum. Bill Foran had about 15 minutes of Hellish play in the middle of game, but he bookended that with excellent running and throwing in the clutch. And the defense bent but didn't break on a number of occassions, as Kevin Kelleher played the role of hero with two huge interceptions.
Why Columbia Lost
The Lions put the Tigers on the ropes twice in the third quarter and let them slip away both times. Then they blew a chance to tie or take the lead late in the fourth with Craig Hormann's second interception to a player he clearly didn't see. The defense gave up way too many yards on the run again, but could have won despite that if the offense had made fewer errors.
Key Turning Points
1) The Lions drove the ball all the way to the Princeton 3 on their opening drive, but couldn't punch it in and had to settle for a Jon Rocholl field goal. This would be in marked contrast to the Tigers, who scored TD's every time they got into the red zone.
2) After trailing 21-3, Columbia stormed back to take a 24-21 lead after opening the third quarter with a long touchdown drive. Then Bill Foran made two turnovers, one on a fumble, the next on an interception, that gave Columbia the ball in Tiger territory and excellent chances to pad their lead. Instead, the Lions went three and out both times.
3) Trailing 28-24 after a Princeton touchdown, the Lions looked to respond with their next possession starting their own 29. Instead, sophomore fullback Pete Stoll fumbled the ball away on first down and the Tigers would score another TD 7 plays later.
4) After pulling to within 35-32 with a spectacular option pass for a TD and a well-executed two-point conversion, Columbia forced yet another Bill Foran fumble to take over at their 45. But two plays later, Hormann threw the interception to Kelleher in the middle of the field. Princeton scored on the ensuing drive and the game was finally over.
1) More than any individual performances, the team's refusal to quit even after falling behind 21-3 and then 35-24 was inspiring. One constant in the Norries Wilson era has been the "no quit" attitdue in the team. It's a noticeable change; the Princeton play-by-play man Ed Benkin came into our booth after the game and pronounced: "These ain't your daddy's Lions... two years ago you guys are starting the buses when you're down 21-3."
2) Jordan Davis and the offensive line had the running game going for the second straight week. After not getting a 100 yard game for his first 22 collegiate games, Davis now has two in a row. Davis remains the second-leading rusher in the Ivy League.
3) Austin Knowlin is a human highlight reel, giving Columbia a scoring threat from anywhere on the field. He had six catches for 146 yards and two TD's and his second TD was an excellent example of how he can find the holes and making big yards after a catch.
1) You can't give a team like Princeton three or four extra chances to beat you, but that's what the Lions did yesterday. The two Princeton turnovers in the third quarter should have left Columbia up by at least 10, instead their razor-thin three point lead was all that remained and it didn't stand up.
2) Craig Hormann had many brilliant moments, but his two INT's were a huge difference in the game. He must return to old form, or Columbia will squander many of their new-found offensive firepower.
3) The Lions still aren't stopping the run and this time, they allowed some big pass plays in what looked like a soft zone. The defense has yet to truly draw its line in the sand this season and they must do it soon.
I thought there were a lot of standout performances. Andy Shalbrack finally got his first collegiate TD on his INT return and he had a fumble recovery to boot.
Eugene Edwards made a nice catch on his INT and also recovered a fumble.
But in a game where we gave up 42 points, it's hard to award the MVP to a defender. So it comes down to Jordan Davis and Austin Knowlin. Davis had another 100 yard game and threw a TD pass on the halfback option. Knowlin had two sensational TD's and some other key catches. I say they share the honor as co-MVP's.