Vol. LXI, No. 39
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
DOLLAR BILL: Princeton University senior quarterback Bill Foran fires the ball last Saturday as sophomore guard J.P. Makrai wards off a Lafayette defender. Foran hit on 18-of-24 passes for 190 yards and added 45 yards rushing to spark Princeton to a come-from-behind 20-14 win over the previously undefeated Leopards.
Bill Foran was looking to make a statement as the Princeton University football team hit the field at undefeated Lafayette last Saturday and he wasn’t alone in that regard among the Tigers.
“You need to show your teammates that the offense can score,” said senior quarterback Foran, who misfired badly a week earlier in Princeton’s 32-21 opening day loss to Lehigh.
“I think the whole team had something to prove tonight because we weren’t happy that we lost our first game.”
Foran and the Tigers were a lot happier around 9:30 p.m. last Saturday night as they overcame two deficits to pull out a 20-14 victory before a crowd of 8,921 at Fisher Field.
The 6’2, 205-pound Foran led the way, hitting on 18-of-24 passes for 190 yards and adding 45 yards rushing.
Princeton head coach Roger Hughes was proud of the resilience shown by his club as it fought back after trailing 7-3 in the second quarter and 14-13 late in the third quarter.
“It was a good team win,” said a relieved Hughes. “We made plays on both sides of the ball. I was really proud of our team’s character. We had gotten down a couple of times but there was no panic on the sidelines.”
Princeton showed its composure as it answered each of Lafayette’s touchdowns with scoring drives of its own. Early in the second quarter, the Leopards took a 7-3 lead on a program-record 89-yard TD run by Anthony D’Urso. Midway through the quarter, the Tigers produced a 16-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up 7:27 on the clock.
Foran completed three passes and made some key runs to help the Tigers move down the field on a march that ended with a two-yard touchdown run by sophomore Kenny Gunter.
Lafayette overcame a Princeton 13-7 third quarter lead on an eight-yard touchdown pass from Mike DiPaola to Adam Gill with 5:03 left in the third quarter.
Once again, the Tigers were up to the challenge. Foran hit junior receiver Will Thanheiser on pass plays of 22 yards and 37 yards to get Princeton knocking on the door. Junior R.C. Lagomarsino closed the deal, plunging one-yard for a touchdown to help Princeton take a lead of 20-14 which it never relinquished.
The team’s offensive execution was the product of some extensive preparation.
“We had a good game plan,” said Foran. “We knew they were blitzing a lot, especially in their game against Penn. Coach gave us some checks this week so I just studied them extra hard. We executed the checks and when everybody picks up the blocks we can start rolling on offense.”
Hughes, for his part, lauded the way the offensive line took care of its business.
“The offensive line gave Bill a lot of time to pass,” said Hughes. “It’s a team effort. Frankly we worked a lot on these situations because of the pressure that Lafayette likes to bring.”
The coach liked the way Foran utilized that extra work. “He was certainly more consistent than last week; I felt that he executed the offense very well,” asserted Hughes, who liked the way his team executed across the board as it didn’t commit one turnover last Saturday after having lost the ball six times in the loss to Lehigh.
“The Lafayette defensive coordinator John Loose does an unbelievable job of changing things up and Bill did a great job of keeping us on track.”
Princeton also did a good job of getting its running game on track as it gained 166 yards on the ground with Rob Toresco rushing for 61 yards with Lagomarsino adding 59 and Gunter picking up 21.
“Our offense is set up to get the ball to the perimeter and they tried to take away the perimeter game,” explained Hughes, whose team had rushed for just 83 yards in its opener.
“That opened up some holes and I thought Robby Toresco did a good job of reading that once he got the ball. At the end of the game, I thought we were controlling the line of scrimmage. When you’re controlling the line of scrimmage, it’s time to run the ball.”
The Tiger defense took control down the stretch, rising to the occasion when it stopped a late Lafayette drive that got as far as the Princeton 25 yard line.
Princeton junior defensive end Tom Methvin said that last stand was also the product of some extensive work on the practice field.
“Sudden changes are a big thing we work on in practice and throughout camp,” said 6’3, 280-pound Methvin.
“We’d practice situations where the offense would have a big play or we’d have a turnover. We were just looking to do what we always do in that situation, get the call on the field and for each guy to play his gap responsibilities.”
Hughes liked the way the Princeton linemen handled their responsibilities on both sides of the ball.
“It goes back to the offensive and defensive lines,” maintained Hughes. “I thought we were the most physical team on the field; that’s what we strive for and preach all the time. I thought we got more physical as the game went on.”
With Princeton starting its Ivy League title defense by hosting Columbia this Saturday, Foran believes the win over Lafayette shows that the Tiger players are developing the trust in each other that characterized their 2006 title season.
“Different players have to step up; it’s good to see that you can start counting on other guys to step up at different moments,” said Foran.
“It’s not like baseball where you can depend on the pitcher. You don’t know who is going to step up but somebody is going to pop up.”
Last Saturday, Foran made a statement in showing that the Tigers can depend on him to run the show offensively.
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