October 6, 2021

Eaddy’s 4th Quarter TDs, Suffocating Defense Pave the Way as PU Football Subdues Columbia

FINISHING STRONG: Princeton University running back Collin Eaddy heads upfield in a 2019 game. Last Saturday, senior co-captain Eaddy rushed for 103 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns as Princeton pulled away to a 24-7 win over visiting Columbia in the Ivy League opener for both teams. The Tigers, now 3-0 overall and 1-0 Ivy, play at Monmouth (3-2) on October 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After rolling to a pair of lopsided victories in its first two games this fall, the Princeton University football team found itself in a battle last Saturday against visiting Columbia.

Heading into the fourth quarter at a sun-splashed Princeton Stadium, Princeton was clinging to a 10-7 lead over the 2-0 Lions in the Ivy League opener for both teams.

“We didn’t panic, we knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Princeton head coach Bob Surace.

“We had some opportunities in the first half to maybe extend the lead. We really struggled in some areas and when I say we struggled, they were really good. I want to give them credit. It wasn’t just us falling on our faces, they have got really good players.”

With Princeton’s really good running back, senior co-captain Collin Eaddy, rushing for two fourth quarter touchdowns, the Tigers pulled away to a 24-7 win.

Eaddy’s first TD came on a two-yard plunge with 8:50 left in regulation.

“That is our pride and joy, getting on the goal line,” said Eaddy, who ended up with 103 yards rushing on 22 carries in the victory.

“It is always nice to get into the end zone. I credit the offensive line, they were moving guys all day.”

Sealing the deal for the Tigers, Eaddy scored his second touchdown on a dazzling 17-yard jaunt, pin-balling through the Lion defense.

“The defensive end crashed down and I thought I was wrapped up, I dropped my shoulder and he fell off,” recalled the 5’10, 220-pound Eaddy, who hails from Raleigh, N.C.

“Dylan Classi was driving either the safety or the corner down the field. I cut off him and walked into to the end zone. It was a lot of great blocking in front on that play, especially from Dylan.”

With Princeton having defeated Lehigh 32-0 and Stetson 63-0 to open the season, getting pushed by Columbia was a valuable experience for the Tigers.

“Coach Surace said in the first two games we didn’t really have to show our heart,” said Eaddy.

“I think this was a test for us to see how physical we were, what our finish was like and how disciplined we were because those guys were really chippy. We call them the city boys, there was a lot of chatter, a lot of stuff under the pile. We stuck to our guns, played smart, and were fine at the end of the day.”

The Princeton defense showed its heart as it stiffened up after yielding its first points of the season when Columbia went on a 10-play, 66-yard scoring march midway through the third quarter.

“We knew coming in that it was going to be a heavyweight battle,” said senior cornerback Delan Stallworth.

“No matter what they threw at us, we just had to roll with the punches. The theme going in was relentless effort and I think everybody was running to the ball. We missed a few tackles, we have to clean that up but we cover each other’s backs. Everybody was just running to the ball, getting it done.”

Stallworth, who had seven tackles and a pass breakup against the Lions, wasn’t surprised that the unit shut the door on Columbia down the stretch.

“We trust each other; we know that we are going to go out there and every time out there, we have a chance to put in a shutout,” said Stallworth.

“They got that score but we were still pretty calm. We knew the offense would come through in the clutch and they did. We feel like nobody is going to drive on us. I feel like we just locked it down and tightened up.”

The Princeton secondary has been employing a physical style to lock down foes this fall.

“One of our favorite things is hitting, we definitely come down to the ball with bad intentions every time,” said Stallworth, a 5’11, 180-pound native of Cincinnati, Ohio.

“That is one of our favorite things to do. I think we are a very good cover team. We have a lot of experience back there so that helps a lot with running the defense. When you run the defense, you can play fast.”

Surace credited Stallworth with using his experience to help tame the Lions.

“Delan is covering guys and he is really playing at a high level; he has played at a high level for a while,” said Surace of Stallworth, a two-time All-Ivy performer.

“You just count on him. We had a couple of corners who were either cramping or down. We are playing without our nickel who was playing corner and he stepped up and just played a heck of a game.”

The Tiger defense had a heck of a game overall, holding Columbia to a net eight yards rushing and 119 yards passing.

“They have a great running game coming into this, a couple 100 yard-a-game rushers or close to it; I just looked at the stats and they had 19 yards apiece,” said Surace.

“We held our gaps, we were in our responsibilities, and we tackled really well. When they broke tackles, there were two or three guys there.”

Seeing Eaddy break tackles on his second TD run was memorable for Surace.

“He is one of the best backs to play here and that is saying something considering the number of great backs at Princeton,” said Surace of Eaddy who has rushed for 175 yards this season and now has 2,013 yards in his college career.

“On the last run, I have seen Keith Elias do something like that. Judd Garrett had a couple like that. You are talking about rare company when you start saying those guys. That run was just amazing. I don’t know how he kept his balance, I thought he was down.”

While Columbia has been down over the years, Surace wasn’t surprised to see the game turn into a struggle.

“I knew this was going to be a test, people look at Columbia because of the history before Al Bagnoli and other than a few years, it hasn’t been successful,” said Surace.

“Since Al has been there, there are no more blowouts. If you can’t force turnovers the game is going to be like this where there are four minutes to go and you have to fight, scratch, and claw to get the touchdown that seals it.”

Surace is expecting another fight when Princeton plays at Monmouth (3-2) this Saturday.

“We are going to get a test next week; their quarterback [Tony Muskett] trains with the same guy my son [A.J.] trains with and he is amazing,” said Surace, whose team is now ranked 24th nationally in the Athlon Sports FCS and AFCA Coaches’ polls.

“He looks like Tony Romo slinging the ball here and there. They have a top running back [Juwon Farri]. Kevin Callahan is an underrated coach; he took that program from nothing. Now they are play the big boys and scholarship football and he is successful.”

Stallworth, for his part, believes that Princeton has to stay in the moment to keep having success this fall.

“We just have to get better every week and lock in, take the coaching, and focus up,” said Stallworth.

“We can’t take what we have done so far and be cocky or anything like that. It is just staying humble, working, and keeping our noses down to the grindstone.”