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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJSportAction)

MARSHALL PLAN: Princeton University junior defensive lineman Jake Marshall, left, tries to corral Colgate running back Jordan Scott last Saturday in Princeton's 16-10 loss to the Raiders. Marshall had six tackles on the day as the Tigers fell to 3-1 on the season.
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Shoddy Execution Dooms Late Rally As Tiger Football Loses to Colgate

By Bill Alden

In 2004, the Princeton University football team brought a 3-0 record into its clash at Colgate and ended up coming home with a loss after blowing a late lead.

That setback started Princeton on a tailspin which saw the Tigers drop four of their last six games and a once promising season turn into mediocrity.

Last Saturday, Princeton again brought a 3-0 record into its annual battle with Colgate. This time, the Tigers fell behind 13-0 three minutes into the game and spent the rest of the afternoon slogging through a driving rainstorm trying to rally.

Although the Tigers closed the gap to 13-10 with 10:38 remaining in the fourth quarter, a late Colgate field goal combined with 1-of-11 passing on the last three drives doomed Princeton to a 16-10 defeat before 4,219 at a rainsoaked Princeton Stadium.

A glum Princeton head coach Roger Hughes vowed that his team would learn from the loss and not let recent history repeat itself.

"I think this is a little wake-up call for us," said Hughes. "The mood in the locker room is that this stinks. It's unacceptable to lose but it's not the end of the world. I think our seniors will hold us together."

One of those seniors, wide receiver Greg Fields, said that process started just after the final gun Saturday.

"It all starts from day one; right now we have to forget about what just happened," said Fields, who had four receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown in the defeat.

"We have to concentrate on our next game. After a tough loss like this, we need to get everybody together and focused."

Unfortunately for Princeton, it didn't show the focus Saturday that it had displayed in not trailing for one second during its 3-0 start.

On the first play of the game, Colgate's Geoff Bean returned the kickoff 60 yards. The Raiders went the remaining 35 yards in four plays and scored on a Jordan Scott one-yard plunge to take a 6-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Princeton star Jay McCareins fumbled the ball away, giving Colgate the ball at the Princeton 28 yard line. After a 12-yard touchdown pass from Mike Saraceno to Kenny Parker, Colgate increased its edge to 13-0.

Princeton answered back in the second quarter with a 27-yard field goal by Derek Javarone, which pushed him into a tie for first all-time at Princeton with 38 career field goals.

After neither team scored in the third quarter, Princeton recovered a Colgate fumble early in the final quarter and struck quickly as Jeff Terrell hit Fields with a 34-yard touchdown pass.

Terrell, though, couldn't develop a rhythm after that, stymied by an inspired Colgate defense and the increasingly deteriorating weather conditions. The junior quarterback ended the day 11-of-28 passing for 161 yards.

Hughes, though, blamed the loss on his team's sloppy play and not the sloppy weather. "I don't know how you can start a game worse than that," said Hughes, whose club committed three turnovers on the day and was outgained 301 yards to 255.

"We tried to claw back but it seemed like every time we did something good we shot ourselves in the foot execution-wise. I'd be lying if I said that the weather didn't affect us some but I don't want to use that as an excuse. All the things we had focused on and that we've been good at in the first three games, we weren't very good at today."

Colgate head coach Dick Biddle, whose team improved to 3-2 with the win, credited Princeton for battling to the end.

"We were playing a very good team that was undefeated," said a relieved Biddle. "Those kids played hard, it was a full 60 minutes."

Princeton senior linebacker Rob Holuba was proud of how the Tigers handled adversity as they tried to dig themselves out of 13-0 hole.

"We had a rough first three minutes," said Holuba, a 5'10, 210 native of Ho-Ho-Kus who had 10 tackles against the Raiders.

"We had a couple of missed calls on those first two drives. We got our calls down and executed. We did what we had to do and more or less shut them down. That's the way football is, you're up sometimes and you're down sometimes. You have to keep playing at one speed."

While the loss to Colgate was disappointing, the Tigers are still on track to their chief goal as they bring a 1-0 Ivy League mark into a crucial league contest at Brown this Saturday (3-1 overall, 0-1 Ivy).

"We came here on August 23 with one goal in mind and that is to win an Ivy League championship," said Holuba.

"Whether or not you win or lose, you have to keep going hard at practice. Whether you're watching film or playing another team, you have to go as hard as you can. We're going to move on, we're not going to dwell on this."

The Tigers will need to go hard if they are to avoid repeating last year's slide down the stretch.

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