October 23, 2015

Tiger Football Falls 38-31 at Brown for First Defeat, Aims to Rebound in Key Clash at Undefeated Harvard


BROWN OUT: Princeton University receiver Trevor Osborne heads up the field in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday, junior Osborne made three receptions for 74 yards in a losing cause as Princeton fell 38-31 at Brown. The Tigers, now 4-1 overall and 1-1 Ivy League, play at No. 15 Harvard (5-0 overall, 2-0 Ivy) on October 24. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

It didn’t take long for the Princeton University football team to find itself in an uphill battle as it played at Brown last Saturday.

Taking the opening kickoff, Brown’s Alex Jette raced 99 yards for a touchdown as the Bears went up 7-0. The Tigers responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by John Lovett to knot the game at 7-7. Early in the second quarter, though, Brown went up 21-7. Another touchdown by Lovett, this time on a 42-yard reception, narrowed the gap to 21-13 at halftime.

The Tigers trailed 24-16 midway through the third quarter and 31-24 early in the fourth. A 10-yard TD pass from Chad Kanoff to Scott Carpenter tied the game at 31-31 with 10:00 left in regulation. But Brown was able to respond with a touchdown in the last minute of the quarter and held off the Tigers to pull out a 38-31 win.

In reflecting on the defeat which dropped the Tigers to 4-1 overall and 1-1 Ivy League, Princeton head coach Bob Surace had no qualms with the effort he got from his players.

“We had a lot of resiliency all day; we came back a number of times and did some really good things,” said Surace.

“I think there is a lot of trust that our guys are going to fight hard and keep making adjustments and we did. I said to somebody earlier in the week, this is going to be the classic game where it goes back and forth and it did.”

Princeton battled to the end, starting the final possession of the day on its 20-yard-line with 52 seconds left in regulation and getting to the Brown 42 before a sack of quarterback Chad Kanoff ended the contest.

“Our guys kept fighting; we had the ball inside their territory on the
last drive,” said Surace.

“We had our opportunities at the end and didn’t convert and they did at the end of the day so credit to them.”

While Kanoff passed for a career-high 321 yards in the setback, Surace acknowledged that the junior star was under too much pressure in the pocket throughout much of the afternoon.

“We have to work on our pass protection, that was not as good as it has been throughout the year,” said Surace.

“We made some terrific throws and catches and everything else but we can’t have our quarterback under duress that much. It came back to haunt us with a couple of picks. He was disrupted.”

Princeton was also haunted by some sloppy play as it was hit with 11 penalties for 94 yards.

“In my five and one-half years here, we have been one of the least penalized teams in the country and it is something we harp on,” said Surace.

“We didn’t play with the proper discipline at times. On a couple of drives defensively, we gave them way too many free yards. We had a couple of big plays offensively they called back on minor things, like pre-snap penalties, being lined up wrong. We have to do better.”

Although Surace won’t harp on it, the Tigers were stretched thin at Brown as injuries have sidelined a number of key players, including running backs DiAndre Atwater and Joe Rhattigan, receiver Seth DeValve, and defensive lineman Kurt Holuba.

“It is not ideal, obviously you would like your guys to play,” said Surace, who lost star linebacker Rohan Hylton and senior offensive lineman Spencer Huston to injury during the loss to the Bears.

“Every time a starter goes down and a reserve takes his place, a special teams guy has to jump up. It does make it a little more difficult for the coaches because some of these guys haven’t gotten the quantity of reps that they have needed. I thought we did a great job adjusting to that, some guys stepped up and they are going to have to keep stepping up. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”

Princeton is not feeling sorry for itself as it looks ahead to the second half of the season.

“We have to find answers,” said Surace. “We need to keep putting together good game plans and keep practicing hard. I think we have a really tough-minded group so we will get that process started again and get the bad taste of a loss out of our system.”

This Saturday, the Tigers face a tough challenge as they head north to take on a dominant Harvard squad, the defending league champions who are 5-0 overall and 2-0 Ivy, having climbed to No. 15 in the national polls.

“We are facing a tremendous team,” said Surace of Harvard, which has won 19 straight games and has scored 221 points this season while giving up 40, having not lost since it fell to Princeton 51-48 in triple overtime in 2013.

“The only tape I have seen on them is when I was watching Brown. They dominated that game on special teams and forced errors. They just capitalize on your mistakes. I don’t know the last time they have given up a touchdown so they are obviously playing really well on defense. Offensively, they don’t turn it over much. They make a lot of plays and they have a lot of weapons.”

With Princeton hoping to get some of its weapons back for Saturday’s clash, Surace knows his team has to make big plays to come through.

“We know the challenges ahead; all the league games are going to be tight games,” said Surace.

“Our league did really well versus the Patriot League and those teams have 60 scholarships. Our league hasn’t done this well out of conference in a long time against scholarship schools. That is what we have to be prepared for. Hopefully we get some guys back and the guys that are going to play will do a great job.”