Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 44
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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TREY BIEN: Princeton University receiver Trey Peacock races down the sideline on his way to a game-winning 78-yard touchdown reception in Princeton’s 17-13 win over Cornell last Saturday. Peacock made three catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns as Princeton snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in Ivy League play.

Culbreath’s Presence, Peacock’s Big Plays Spark PU Football to Victory Over Cornell

Bill Alden

The cards were stacked against the Princeton University football team last Saturday as it hosted Cornell.

Coming into the game, the Tigers were reeling, having lost four straight including a 0-3 start in Ivy League play.

A week earlier, Princeton had hit rock bottom, getting thrashed 37-3 at Harvard as it was outplayed in every phase of the game.

Adding injury to insult, Princeton’s list of ailing players now included senior co-captain Wilson Cates, running back Akil Sharp, and linebacker Jeff Jackson with senior co-captains Jordan Culbreath and Scotty Britton having been previously sidelined for the season.

To make the task more difficult, the Princeton players juggled mid-term exams last week with their pre-game preparation, leading to truncated practices and a streamlined game plan.

But as the Tigers gathered on the sidelines at Princeton Stadium last Saturday before a crowd of 7,100, they had a secret weapon.

For the first time since being hospitalized and diagnosed with aplastic anemia, running back Culbreath was on hand to support his teammates.

Princeton head coach Roger Hughes said the presence of Culbreath gave the Tigers a jolt of inspiration.

“It was great to have him back on the sidelines, and great to have him at team breakfast,” said Hughes. “I think he gave us a great emotional lift today.”

Playing with heart and execution on both sides of the ball, the Tigers made Culbreath proud as they rallied for a thrilling 17-13 victory over the Big Red.

Afterward, Culbreath got to share in the spoils of victory as he was awarded the game ball.

“We’ve been waiting to give him a game ball since he was diagnosed, and it was nice that he was in person to take it,” said Hughes, whose team improved to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in Ivy play with the victory.

“It was pretty emotional in the locker room afterwards. It’s bittersweet. Our thoughts and prayers are with he and his family as he continues treatment.”

Princeton could have given the game ball to junior wide receiver Trey Peacock, who made three catches for 113 yards and both Tiger touchdowns.

“He has a huge size advantage and is a very good athlete, and he’s becoming a very good receiver,” said Hughes of the 6’3, 210-pound Peacock.

“He’s not quite there yet, but he’s close. The thing that makes him so special is his work ethic. And he’s becoming a leader on the team. We tried a number of times to have him isolated one-on-one with how they were rolling their coverage to the strength of our formation. He took advantage of it.”

Peacock’s first score came in the second quarter when quarterback Tommy Wornham found him for a 17-yard touchdown. The TD gave the Tigers a 10-3 lead going into halftime.

After Cornell scored 10 unanswered points in the third quarter to take a 13-10 lead, Peacock produced the biggest play of the afternoon and his career. With just under seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Tigers facing a third and eight, Peacock beat his man down the home sideline. Wornham found him and Peacock made an over-the-shoulder catch and raced away from a Cornell defensive back for a 78-yard touchdown.

“I was just streaking down the sidelines and hoping that Tommy would see me, and he saw me and just threw it up,” said Peacock, recalling the play.

“I didn’t really know where the guy was behind me, and when I came back to the sidelines, pretty much everybody came up to me and said, if I would have gotten caught, they wouldn’t talk to me the rest of the year. I had to get in the end zone.”

After Peacock’s dramatic play, it was time for some heroics by the Princeton defense. The Big Red took the kickoff and proceeded to march to its 49-yard-line. Going for a fourth and one with four minutes left in regulation, Cornell was stopped cold as Tiger linebacker Keola Kaluhiokalani dropped Big Red running back Randy Barbour at the line of scrimmage.

Junior linebacker Steven Cody, who recorded 15 tackles on the day, was proud of the defensive stand.

“Keola made a great play and shot a gap and saw it; he was able to wrap him up,” said Cody. “The rest is history from there. We had six or seven guys jump on him. It was a huge momentum change. It was nice to get a stand like that. I feel like all year fourth-and-one plays have been going against us instead of going for us. It was huge.”

After Princeton drove the Cornell 20 and was stopped on fourth down with 20 seconds left, the Big Red got one last possession. Cornell could only manage a nine-yard completion and the Princeton celebration was on.

Peacock, for one, believes that Princeton’s dramatic win could give it some momentum going down the stretch drive, starting with its game this Saturday at Penn (5-2 overall, 4-0 Ivy).

“We were going through kind of a slump with four losses,” said Peacock. “It’s great to get out there and get that win and move forward and progress from here.”

And it was great for Princeton to have Culbreath on hand for that win.

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