September 26, 2018

With Horsted Enjoying Record-Breaking Day, PU Football Crushes Monmouth in N.J. Rumble

SCORING MACHINE: Princeton University football player Jesper Horsted heads upfield in a 2017 game. Last Saturday, senior star Horsted made eight receptions for 150 yards and three touchdowns as Princeton routed Monmouth 51-9. Horsted’s third TD catch of the day gave him 20 for his career and a program record, breaking the previous mark of 19 set by Derek Graham. The Tigers, now 2-0, open Ivy League action by playing at Columbia on September 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jesper Horsted produced one of the greatest receiving seasons in Princeton University football history last fall when he made 92 receptions for 1,226 yards and 14 touchdowns, establishing program single-season records for catches and TDs.

As a result of his landmark campaign, Horsted entered the 2018 season on track to set Tiger career marks in catches, receiving yards, and TD receptions.

Last Saturday against visiting Monmouth, Horsted eclipsed one of those records as his three touchdown catches gave him 20 for his career, breaking the previous mark of 19 set by Derek Graham.

Horsted, who made eight receptions for 150 yards as the Tigers rolled to a 51-9 rout of the Hawks, was less impressed by his achievement than Princeton’s dominant performance as it improved to 2-0 before a crowd of 11,068 at Princeton Stadium.

“The touchdown record is awesome; I didn’t even know about it,” said the 6’4, 227-pound Horsted, a native of Shoreview, Minn. who also stars for the Princeton baseball team.

“It is not why I play. The team record is more important and that is what I am focused on, that is even cooler. To start off 2-0 against two really good teams and now be going into Ivy League play with some momentum with two 50-point games (Princeton topped Butler 50-7 in its opener on September 15) in a row is amazing.”

The record-breaking TD catch came on an 81-yard bomb midway through the third quarter.

“I had no idea that was coming,” said Horsted, who now has 139 catches and 1,946 yards with the career marks currently standing at 192 receptions and 2,796 yards. “It is perfect; it embodies everything.”

Princeton’s one-two combination at receiver of Horsted and senior Stephen Carlson, who made 11 catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns against the Hawks, makes things tough for opposing defenses.

“It helps so much; I think you would notice a big difference if Stephen wasn’t on the other side of the ball,” said Horsted.

“Physically you can’t take two guys to cover me when we have guys in the slot like Stephen on the other side. If they choose to do that, then they are going to have to go against Steve, man to man, which he showed today is not something you want to do matchup wise.”

The improvement in quarterback John Lovett’s passing game along with his prowess as a runner is another matchup nightmare for Princeton’s foes.

“He could always throw the ball, but he is learning to sit in the pocket and make good reads,” said Horsted of Lovett, who hit 21-for-27 passes for 332 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 71 yards and another score against Monmouth.

“His throwing is noticeably better. He is playing at a really high level and when he doesn’t get a pass off, he makes things happen with his feet. It is either one or the other every single play.”

Princeton head coach Bob Surace is thrilled by the stellar play he is getting from his offensive skill players.

“You are doubling Horsted, and Stephen Carlson is a heck of a football player,” said Surace, whose team jumped out to a 30-9 halftime lead and was up 44-9 heading into the fourth quarter on the way to outgaining the Hawks 615 yards to 337 on the day.

“Charlie Volker (87 yards rushing and a TD), Colin Eaddy (39 yards on eight carries), and John Lovett had some amazing runs. We haven’t even gotten to use Graham [Adomitis] much. Jacob Birmelin was open on the first play and we missed him. We haven’t even utilized all of them because when we get to the middle of the third quarter I am going to coach [Sean] Gleeson, put the restrictive plates on, let’s slow it down because of the score. When you get 44 points two weeks in a row with 25 minutes left, you know we are playing at a really high level.”

In Surace’s view, Horsted has the potential to excel at the pro level. “He made some guys miss on those screens; guys that are 227 pounds aren’t supposed to be that nifty,” said Surace.

“I am sitting back there, whoa, that is a 5’7 type guy move. We have scouts at every practice looking at him and other guys. I certainly think he can not only be at the next level, he can be a real player at that level.”

Surace tipped his hat to a really good effort from the Princeton offensive line.

“That is a terrific run defense and our offensive line was opening up holes and giving protection,” said Surace. “I don’t know if we got sacked; I don’t know if we had a penalty until there was a minute left in the game.”

The Princeton defense, on the other hand, came up with five sacks and held Monmouth to 34 yards rushing after yielding a 71-yard run by Pete Guerriero on the Hawks’ first possession.

“I thought on the whole we did a lot of good things;  we didn’t tackle as well as I would have liked,” said Surace.

“We have to get better in space but I liked our energy to pressure that kid [Monmouth quarterback Kenji Bahar]; we had five sacks at halftime. I don’t think he had given up five sacks all year; nobody was getting on him. He is a terrific QB;we threw him off rhythm a little bit.”

A challenge from New Jersey native Surace helped spark extra energy for the Tigers.

“I told the guys from day one, this is for the N.J. state championship,” said Surace.

“I never played for a state title; we are the two FCS schools in the state. They are going to be in the playoffs most likely. We ramped it up. We took this home opener and knew the quality of opponent we were playing and we really raised our game.”

Princeton will be facing
another quality opponent as it heads to New York City to play at 2-0 Columbia this Friday evening to begin Ivy play in a game to be broadcast nationally on ESPNU.

“This isn’t Columbia from 2000 or whatever,” said Surace.  “This is going to be a war; it is going to be a terrific game. They have recruited well, they are coached well. I told our guys we have to be ready to go.”

Horsted, for his part, is confident that the Tigers can keep up their terrific play.

“It is one thing to have hope and it is another thing to actually do it,” said Horsted.

“We have got a lot of work to put in still and it is only two games in the season and we haven’t even begun Ivy League play, but there is a lot of potential. It is the most fun I have ever had on the football field, those are my best friends out there. Things are going well so hopefully it can keep up like this.”