October 11, 2017

Star Receiver Horsted Helps Get Rally Going As PU Football Roars Past Georgetown 50-30

BY GEORGE: Princeton University football player Jesper Horsted races upfield last Saturday against visiting Georgetown. Junior star receiver Horsted made nine catches for 112 yards and a touchdown to help Princeton rally from a 10-0 deficit on the way to a 50-30 win over the Hoyas. Princeton, now 3-1 overall and 0-1 Ivy League, plays at Brown (2-2 overall, 0-1 Ivy) on October 14. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the leadoff hitter for the Princeton University baseball team, Jesper Horsted looks to start rallies for the Tigers.

Doubling as a star receiver for the Princeton football team, Horsted displayed his ability to start a rally on the gridiron as the Tigers hosted Georgetown last Saturday.

With Princeton trailing the Hoyas 10-0 late in the first quarter, Horsted hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Chad Kanoff to get the Tigers on the board.

“I was running a five-step and I was looking at the QB,” said Horsted, a 6’4, 215-pound native of Shoreview, Minn.

“The defensive back was probably expecting me to run a fade after seeing that a couple of times on film. I think he was playing that and I ended up cutting inside. It was a good play call by coach and the ball was right there, it was wide open.”

While Horsted acknowledged that the Princeton players were frustrated by their sluggish play at the outset on Saturday, he was proud of how the Tigers bounced back, scoring 36 unanswered points to build a 36-10 lead by halftime on the way to a 50-30 victory before 4,466 at Princeton Stadium.

“We were able to turn it around and get off to a good roll there,” said Horsted, reflecting on the win which improved Princeton to 3-1. “It is not a good way to start but it is a good way to respond.”

Horsted, for his part, is on a roll this season, having already exceeded his 2016 total of 30 catches.

“I know the offense much better,” said Horsted, who now has a team-high and Ivy League-best 35 catches for 374 yards and five touchdowns after making nine catches for 112 yards and a touchdown against the Hoyas.

“Last year, I don’t think I was ready for an every down role because I would just make mistakes. I got into the playbook a lot this offseason. On top of that, I just have developed a better repertoire with Chad [Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff]. My footwork is better on the routes.”

Keeping on top of two sports and his studies as a sociology major has proven to be a challenge for Horsted.

“Time management is difficult,” said Horsted, who earned All-Ivy recognition in his first two seasons with the baseball team and his sophomore campaign with the football team.

“I want to be out there swinging the baseball bat as much as I can in the fall but it is difficult with soreness, practices, and meetings. When that offseason hits, I need to start getting my swings in but still doing the routes. It took me a while to figure out freshman year but it has definitely gotten better each year. I just know where I need to improve on, what I need to be doing, and who I need to be meeting with to improve.”

Princeton head coach Bob Surace knows that his team has to improve on its starts.

“I am disappointed in myself because I wanted the guys out earlier so they can get stretched and loose and it just didn’t get communicated the right way,” said Surace. “We have got to get into a rhythm.”

The Tigers definitely found a rhythm as they reeled off 36 straight points to end the first half and scored the first 14 points of the second half before the Hoyas rallied for the last 20 points of the contest.

“We got on that really nice groove; it continued into the third quarter,” said Surace.

Things didn’t go so nicely down the stretch for the Tigers as they got sloppy.

“I thought we got relaxed; we are not a team that can turn the faucet on and off,” said Surace. “There is nothing better as a coach than having things to nag about after a win.”

Seeing Horsted turning it on this fall has been exciting for Surace. “He is an all-league baseball player and he is showing talent in football that is elite,” said Surace.

Senior quarterback and tri-captain Kanoff moved himself into elite company, as he eclipsed the 5,000-yard passing mark in his career, finishing the day with 5,269 career yards, second most in Princeton history.

“Chad has been sharp; when he is well protected, we are throwing the ball at a very efficient rate,” said Surace of Kanoff, who connected on 25-of-29 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns in the win. “Some of those throws are split-second decisions and he is on fire with those.”

Kanoff, for his part, wasn’t focused on milestones. “It is great to be a part of Princeton history but it is not something I control,” said Kanoff, a 6’4, 225-pound native of Pacific Palisades, Calif. who trails only Doug Butler ’86 (7,291 yards) on the program’s passing yardage list. “I will think about it later; I just want to win games.”

Kanoff’s sharp passing helped Princeton take control of the contest as he connected on three scoring strikes in the first half.

“We felt sharp, we played more towards our potential,” said Kanoff, reflecting on the team’s rally. “I think we have a good team; we let a little of last week (a 28-24 loss to Columbia) bleed into the beginning.”

Getting the chance to throw to Horsted and Stephen Carlson (5 catches for 87 yards and 1 TD) is a good time for Kanoff.

“Jesper is a stud; he has got really good hands and he is fast,” said Kanoff. “We have so many good players and he is one of them. Stephen Carlson is good and we have a really good O-line. It is a fun offense to be part of.”

With Princeton heading into the thick of its Ivy League season, starting with a game at Brown (2-2 overall, 0-1 Ivy) on October 14, Kanoff is looking for a good stretch drive.

“We have got a chip on our shoulder for the rest of the year,” said Kanoff, noting that the defeat to Columbia will be fueling the Tigers.

Horsted, for his part, echoes those sentiments. “The guys are really excited, especially after we lost that last Ivy League game,” said Horsted. “We want to come back with a vengeance.”