Utilizing Power Running, Stingy Defense, Princeton Football Defeats Penn in Finale
RUNNING WILD: Princeton University running back Collin Eaddy heads upfield in a game earlier this fall. Junior star Eaddy rushed for 172 yards to help Princeton defeat Penn 28-7 last Saturday at Franklin Field in Philadelphia to wrap up the season. The victory left Princeton at 8-2 overall and 5-2 Ivy League as it finished just behind Dartmouth (9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy) and Yale (9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy), who tied for league title. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
It was a raw, chilly afternoon last Saturday in Philadelphia as the Princeton University football team faced Penn at venerable Franklin Field in the season finale.
Notwithstanding temperatures hovering in the low 40s and a brisk breeze whipping through the ancient cement structure opened in 1895, Princeton ended the day with a warm feeling as it pulled away to a 28-7 win over the Quakers before a bundled-up crowd of 7,898.
“In our league it is just so tight, it is the little things that matter,” said Princeton head coach Bob Surace, whose team snapped a two-game losing streak and ended the fall at 8-2 overall and 5-2 Ivy League, finishing just behind Dartmouth (9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy) and Yale (9-1 overall, 6-1 Ivy), who tied for league title.
“That is what we look like, at times it might be a little ugly and everything else. But we didn’t turn the ball over, we fought through some things, and we did really well in certain situational football.”
The Tigers did really well in the running game, pounding the Quakers into submission, gaining 283 yards on 48 carries with junior Collin Eaddy leading the way with 172 yards rushing and two touchdowns and senior Ryan Quigley gaining 92 with one TD.
“We really got going early in that; it was effective, it was working,” said Surace. “We stayed with it, which is sometimes hard to do.”
Even when the Tigers couldn’t find holes, they kept pressing ahead.
“They ran hard a couple of times when there wasn’t much there,” added Surace.
“Collin, Quigs and even Kevin [Davidson] on that one run where he spun out of it and got an extra three yard. The word of the week was ‘finish.’ It was not just how we finished the season, it was how we finished the play.”
Eaddy enjoyed finishing the season with such a big game.
“The thing for me was that O-line got going today,” said Eaddy, a 5’11, 210-pound native of Raleigh, N.C, who ended the fall as Princeton’s leading rusher with 799 yards and leading scorer with 12 touchdowns.
“When they start rolling, I don’t feel like we can be stopped and that showed today.”
When things weren’t rolling downhill, the Tigers were content with grinding things out.
“We were really efficient, that was a big thing,” said Eaddy.
“It may not be a touchdown every run we have but if we can get effective runs, we can move the chains. We did that well today so I was really happy with the offense played today.”
Junior defensive back Delan Stallworth sparked a gritty defensive effort, making a game-high 12 tackles as the Tigers yielded 446 yards but stymied the Quakers in critical situations as they went 4-of-13 on third down conversions and just 1-of-7 on fourth down attempts.
“Our theme of the week was to finish and fight; I think that really showed up on the field on the fourth down and third down plays, getting those stops,” said Stallworth.
“We had two tough losses the two weeks before and how we bounced back from that and fought in those critical situations was really good. After the first drive we made a couple of adjustments but I think it was mostly just how we played, how physical we played, how fast we played.
While Princeton fell just short of defending its Ivy title after going 10-0 last fall, Surace was proud of how his players handled their business this fall.
“Today is about beating Penn in my mind and what these guys mean and what they have meant, not the outcome of the season,” said Surace, whose team had a scare as running back Trey Gray suffered a head injury on the second half kickoff and was stretchered off the field after a delay of several minutes but had a good prognosis after spending the night at Penn hospital.
“It is the process, the way our seniors and juniors have led, the accountability, the culture, and the fight. That never changed. We didn’t win every game and we will continue to work and try to get back to the point. The other stuff is just awesome. I love coming to work; I think they love coming to practice, meetings and lifts.”
Surace, for his part, will miss coming to work with his 2019 squad. “I think for all of us, it takes two or three days to get over the fact that the season is over and we don’t have an opportunity to keep playing,” said Surace.
“These guys have such joy on the practice field. These guys love each other like a family. You work so hard for 10 Saturdays. You get one like this and it is against a really good team who is playing its best football; you feel really good about it and then there is this empty feeling.”
Eaddy and his teammates showed that love as they enjoyed a spirited celebration on the field after the win.
“For one, it is a rivalry game, we are not necessarily fond of Penn,” said Eaddy, reflecting on the post-game revelry.
“I think even more, we just wanted to send the seniors out on a good note. The fashion that we did it today was impressive for us. Coming off the last two games, the scores were not on our favor so just to get back to the way we do things was really exciting.”