Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 47
 
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
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LIFE OF BRIAN: Princeton University junior quarterback Brian Anderson lofts a pass in action earlier this fall. Last Saturday at Dartmouth, Anderson sparkled in his first career start as he hit on 16-of-21 passes for 186 yards and and rushed for a team-high 72 yards and a touchdown as Princeton pulled out a 17-14 overtime win. The victory left the Tigers with a final overall record of 4-6 and 3-4 in Ivy League play, good for a three-way tie for fourth in the league with Penn and Dartmouth.

Junior QB Anderson Sparkles in First Start as PU Football Edges Dartmouth in Finale

Bill Alden

After getting a brief audition earlier this season due to injury, junior quarterback Brian Anderson got the chance to play a leading role for the Princeton University football team in its season finale last Saturday at Dartmouth.

With senior Bill Foran plagued by a penchant for turnovers and his classmate Greg Mroz sidelined because of a concussion, Princeton head coach Roger Hughes decided to give Anderson a shot.

“We had talked about making a change and we made the decision on Monday,” said Hughes.

“I told Bill on Monday that Brian would be getting most of the reps this weeks and we would see how he was doing. As Brian got more and more reps, he seemed more and more comfortable.”

The 6’2, 205-pound Anderson didn’t waste any time showing he was up to his new role, hitting on his first 11 passes as Princeton built a 14-0 halftime lead.

“I thought he looked very good in the first half,” said Hughes. “I thought he made some great decisions.”

Anderson and the Tigers, though, cooled in the second half and Dartmouth forged a late rally that saw the Big Green score two fourth quarter touchdowns with the second one coming on the last play of regulation to knot the game at 14-14 and force overtime.

The Princeton defense stood tall in the overtime, forcing a fumble on Dartmouth’s second play of the extra session that was recovered by Tiger captain Jon Stem.

Anderson made one last big play of the day as he ran 16 yards to put Princeton in range for a chip shot 25-yard field goal which was converted by Connor Louden to give the Tigers a sweet 17-14 win before 4,017 at Memorial Field.

The win left Princeton with a final overall record of 4-6 and 3-4 in Ivy League play, good for a three-way tie for fourth in the league with Penn and Dartmouth.

Hughes was thrilled with the efficiency of Anderson’s effort which saw him hit on 16-of-21 passes for 186 yards and one interception and rush for a team-high 72 yards and a touchdown.

“Any time you have a quarterback take care of the ball like that, it’s great,” said Hughes. “Brian only made a mistake on that interception.”

The Princeton defense made few mistakes as it held Dartmouth scoreless until midway through the fourth quarter.

“They did a good job most of the day,” said Hughes, whose defense stymied a Dartmouth team that had scored 94 points combined in its previous two outings and was averaging 38 points a game in its last four contests. “We needed to stop the big play and they did a good job of that. We made some big stops inside the 20.”

Early in the afternoon, it didn’t look like Princeton would have to worry about making big stops in the game’s waning moments. In the Tigers’ first possession, Princeton marched 88 yards for a score. The big play on the drive was a 51-yard pass from Anderson to Adam Berry which gave the Tigers a first down and goal at the Dartmouth two-yard-line. Rob Toresco bulled in from there as Princeton took a 7-0 lead.

On Princeton’s next possession, Anderson was at it again. The junior lefty from Jacksonville, Ill. hit four straight passes to help Princeton advance to the Dartmouth 22. Anderson finished off the drive with a nine-yard scoring run as the Tigers pushed their lead to 14-0.

The game stayed at the score until Dartmouth made its fourth quarter rally. With 12:31 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Big Green took possession at their own 22. Dartmouth QB Tom Bennewitz hooked up on two big pass plays to Brett Lowe to put Big Green deep into Princeton territory. Dartmouth halved Princeton’s lead after Ryan Mahoney rushed in from the one-yard line.

After an interception by Tiger defensive back Dan Kopolovich and a three-and-out series, it looked like the Dartmouth offense had cooled.

But Bennewitz found the range again, hitting on five-of-nine passes to get the Big Green to the Princeton 16. With two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Bennewitz hit his sixth pass of the drive as he found Phil Galligan for a six-yard touchdown pass. Andrew Kempler converted the extra point and the teams headed into overtime.

Hughes said his players weren’t down as they headed into overtime. “We had the momentum in the early part of the game and they got it in the fourth quarter,” said Hughes. “There was no panicking; it was let’s go out and do this. Fortunately we won the toss and went on defense first.”

The Princeton defense didn’t waste any time regaining the momentum as John Callahan forced Nate Servis to fumble and Stem recovered. Five plays later, Louden booted the ball through the uprights for the 25-yard field goal to give Princeton the margin of victory.

The Princeton seniors helped will the Tigers to victory as they played in their last game.

“The seniors were playing at a higher level,” said Hughes. “Robby Toresco had bruised ribs and left the game. He probably should not have come back but there he was flying into the line. It was good to see a senior like Stem get the fumble in overtime, it’s like icing on the cake.”

It was good for Hughes to see his team display its character up to the last whistle of the season. “One of the things that I focused on in talking after the game was the way we showed character after we were knocked out of the Ivy League race a few weeks ago,” said Hughes.

“We could have folded our tents. We went out and played a good game against Yale, we executed well except when we were inside their five yard line. The weather was bad Saturday; we could have gone up there and just go through the motions but they kept fighting.”

After enduring a rocky road this fall as Princeton failed in its bid to defend its Ivy title, Hughes and his players thoroughly enjoyed their trip home from New Hampshire after the game.

“It is a five and one-half hour ride but it seemed like two hours,” said Hughes with a laugh.

And if Anderson can build on what he showed Saturday, the Tigers might find themselves on a nice ride next fall.

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