Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 48
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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HISTORIC PACE: Princeton University junior running back Jordan Culbreath races through the Dartmouth defense last Saturday in Princeton’s 28-10 win over the Big Green. Culbreath made history in the victory, running for 276 yards on 40 carries, the second-highest single game rushing total for Princeton behind the 299 yards gained by Keith Elias against Lafayette in 1992. Culbreath finished the season as the Ivy League’s leading rusher with 1,206 yards. His output this fall was the fourth-highest single-season total in Tiger history.

Junior RB Culbreath Races Into History as PU Football Tops Dartmouth in Finale

Bill Alden

Blaring music and periodic whoops of joy bounced off the walls of the Princeton University football team’s locker room as last Saturday afternoon turned to evening.

While the Tiger players reveled in the euphoria following their 28-10 season-ending win over Dartmouth before a crowd of 7,113 at Princeton Stadium, the man most responsible for the win quietly put things in perspective across the hall at the post-game media conference.

Junior running back Jordan Culbreath, who ended the day with 276 yards rushing, the second best single-game total in Princeton history (behind the 299 yards gained by Keith Elias against Lafayette in 1992), came into the freezing, windy afternoon confident that things were going to end on a high note.

“Before the game, I felt it was going to be a good day because my knee felt better from the Penn game,” said Culbreath, whose heroics helped Princeton finish at 4-6 overall and 3-4 in Ivy League play, good for fifth place in the league standings.

“The line did a great job today; I felt the holes were there. I wasn’t getting touched on the long runs.”

Culbreath’s historic effort helped him finish as the Ivy League’s leading rusher with 1,206 yards. His output this fall was the fourth-highest single-season total in Tiger history.

Coming into the 2008 campaign, the humble junior didn’t see himself as a potential record-breaker.

“Before the season, I didn’t have any expectations,” said Culbreath, a 5’11, 195-pound native of Falls Church, Va. who gained a total of 253 yards in his sophomore season.

“As it went on, it was a goal I was trying to achieve. The team goals were on the top of my list. To reach that mark, it feels good.”

It felt good for Princeton head coach Roger Hughes to watch his junior star make history.

“I don’t think there are enough superlatives in the dictionary,” said Hughes, when asked to comment on Culbreath’s performance.

“He has great vision; you notice with Jordan that any time he runs the ball, he finishes the run. He reminds me of Walter Payton from the standpoint that he is always falling forward; he puts the ball ahead. The other unique thing about Jordan is that he has one of the strongest work ethics on this team.”

Hughes was gratified to see his hard-working group of seniors end their careers with a resounding victory which saw Princeton outgain Dartmouth 423 yards to 186.

“I felt like for the first time, we physically dominated someone,” asserted Hughes, whose team’s win dropped Dartmouth to 0-10 on the season, the program’s first winless campaign since 1883.

“I thought our kids played with great intensity and focus for a full 60 minutes and that’s something we have been trying to do all year long. I was very proud of our seniors and how they led this team to make sure the effort was there for the full time to finish this thing right. I thanked the seniors in our locker room for starting our next winning streak. This is the first wining streak of the 2009 season.”

Tiger senior defensive line man Peter Buchignani was happy to have a hand in starting that streak.

“It is always great to go out with a win,” said Buchignani. “In my four years I have seen the good and the bad from an Ivy championship [in 2006] to losing games to Harvard and Yale. To go out like this in a game where, as Coach Hughes mentioned, that we really played at our best for a full 60 minutes, was an incredible feeling. Our senior group wants to see these guys succeed next year so this is a good boost for them going into offseason.”

In the Dartmouth game, the Tigers got an early boost from Culbreath as he raced for a 58-yard touchdown run on his first carry as Princeton jumped to a 7-0 lead just 1:54 into the game.

Princeton doubled its lead early in the second quarter as it cashed in on an interception by freshman Blake Clemons. The Tigers took over at the Dartmouth 20 and four plays later senior quarterback Brian Anderson ran two yards for a touchdown as Princeton increased its advantage to 14-0.

Dartmouth narrowed the gap just before halftime, scoring on a 22-yard field goal by Blake Foley to make the score 14-3.

Wasting no time reasserting its dominance after the break, Princeton took the opening kickoff of the second half and proceeded to march down the field. Anderson capped the 67-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Bill Mitchell as Princeton went up 21-3.

That lead was short-lived as Dartmouth’s Peter Pidermann returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a score to make it 21-10.

Culbreath, though, helped Princeton regain the momentum. The tailback rambled 52 yards to put Princeton at the Dartmouth five. Two plays later, he burst into the end zone as Princeton built its lead back up to 28-10 with 8:04 left in the third quarter..

Neither team scored the rest of the day as the game ended at 28-10, sparking an extended post-game celebration on field with the Princeton seniors posing for photo after photo.

Hughes, for his part, wanted more time with his seniors. “I am really saddened to see this season end,” said Hughes, who has a 43-46 record in his nine years heading the Tigers,

“I’d like to start the season all over with these guys right here. The work ethic and the character of the team that we have right now is really special. I am going to miss these seniors, I’ m going to miss this team a lot.”

Culbreath was already looking forward to his senior season. “I think this is a great win for the team; we needed a huge boost of morale,” said Culbreath, who was later named as a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy selection.

“We are all pretty excited. I am pretty sure it is going to carry on to next season.”

And with Culbreath carrying the ball for Princeton, next season could be pretty special.

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