Updated 3:23 p.m.
Special teams got Princeton again after The Citadel forced a 3 and out. This time, Coyle blasted his longest punt of the day, and Roberts returned it even further. The speedy receiver went down the middle of the field, cut right and returned it 54 yards. It looked like an inevitable touchdown, but Coyle did a heck of a job using the sideline to cut off room and ultimately force Roberts out. Asheton Jordan did the job himself, going off the left side of the line for the 5-yard touchdown. The extra point failed, and The Citadel led 30-17.
The Princeton offense just hasn't been able to settle into a drive throughout the second half. The Citadel has improved its pressure and kept Anderson or Culbreath from getting comfortable. The Bulldog offense currently has the ball after converting on 4th and 1 near midfield and is moving again. It's time to head to the field, but check back later on GoPrincetonTigers.com for a full recap of Princeton opening day of the 2008 season.
Updated 3:05 p.m.
The third phase for The Citadel also got going, as the offense marched 68 yards to take its first lead of the day. Blanchard’s 35-yard pass to Joshua Haney, the first real miscommunication for the Tiger secondary, got The Citadel down to the 10 yard line, and on third down, Blanchard faked a quarterback draw and flipped a lob to tight end Taylor Cornett, who did a nice job getting his feet inbounds before falling out the back of the end zone.
The Princeton defense did a bend-but-don’t-break on The Citadel’s next possession, which kept the Bulldogs from extending the lead to more than a touchdown. Princeton got some much-needed pressure on Blanchard when The Citadel got to the 12 yard line, and Sam Keeler moved the lead to 24-17 with less than one minute remaining in the third quarter.
Updated 2:47 p.m.
You had to know a proud Citadel team would come out fired up in the second half. Special teams provide The Citadel with a big break early in the second half. Mel Capers, who had 16 blocked kicks in high school, came off the right side of the line and blocked Ryan Coyle’s punt to open the second half. Reggie Rice picked it up and sprinted 25 yards for the touchdown. The Citadel defense has forced another punt and has the ball on its own 38 yard line with 8:56 left in the third quarter.
Updated 2:23 p.m.
The Citadel cut the deficit to three points by driving 66 yards for the touchdown. Roberts, who not gotten on track before the drive, made two big plays on the drive. He took a reverse run 11 yards for a first down and caught an 11-yard post pattern for a touchdown. Citadel quarterback Bart Blanchard, a cool customer amidst a strong Princeton rush, added a long run of his own.
Looking to score again before halftime, Pete Ploszek took the kickoff and, after 15 yards, handed it to Meko McCray. A track standout in the sprints, McCray nearly broke it and was tackled at the 50. After a first down, Thanheiser took an end around into The Citadel red zone, and after getting inside the 10, Anderson hit Zimmerman for the touchdown. Zimmerman, whose blocking in the first half (along with the offensive line) was a key to the offensive success, threw a quick block, rolled off and caught a pass in the flat. He was hit short of the goal-line but powered himself in for the score.
Princeton will get the ball first after halftime and leads 17-7. In his first start, Steven Cody has six tackles in the first 30 minutes.
Updated 1:45 p.m.
After another defensive stop, Princeton went 78 yards for its first touchdown of the season. Anderson ran for 18 yards, following a Jonathan Meyers lead block, to move deep into Citadel territory. The blocking in the run game has been superb so far. Matt Zimmerman has made several inside blocks to spring Culbreath, who seems to always fall forward for two extra yards. A wide receiver screen to Trey Peacock got the ball to the 2 yard line, and an option pitch left to Culbreat gave Princeton its first touchdown.
The fans, and there are a lot of them here, aren't sure what to make of this. Through the first 22 minutes of the game, Princeton has outgained the 22nd-ranked Citadel 152-46.
Updated 1:32 p.m.
The first quarter ends with Princeton ahead 3-0. After a stop near midfield, Anderson converted a 3rd and long pass to Will Thanheiser for a first down. He nearly had another, but a pass to Peacock was a little behind him. Ryan Coyle's first punt of the season went 37 yards, which may not seem like much compared to his superior average from last season, but the hang time on the punt didn't allow Andre Roberts a chance to return it. Rest assured that head coach Roger Hughes will take 37-yard punts like that all day.
Updated 1:14 p.m.
For Collin McCarthy, Brian Anderson and Jordan Culbreath, it was a nice way to start the season. The Citadel got the ball first, and on its first play of the season, the Princeton defense recorded a sack when McCarthy came off the side and got to Bart Blanchard. Princeton forced a 3-and-out, although The Citadel nearly hit on a 61-yard touchdown pass to Roberts. His speed is scary.
The Princeton offense got the ball after a nice punt return from Matt Ransom. On Princeton's first offensive play of the season, Brian Anderson faked a handoff and ran a quarterback keeper 26 yards. Two plays later, Culbreath took his first run nine yards and broke two tackles on the play. Both look quick. Princeton converted on two third downs on the first drive, including one on a nice scramble by Anderson and a nice catch in traffic by Trey Peacock.
The drive ended with a 31-yard field goal by Connor Louden. Considering the way the 2007 season opener against Lehigh began, this was a very successful start.
Updated 12:35 p.m.
Two freshmen could see playing time in the backfield today, running backs Eric Stoyanoff and Jonathan Meyers. Meyers, a top lacrosse recruit as well, turned a lot of heads when he passed up scholarship offers from schools like Florida and Michigan to attend Princeton. The New York Times did a feature on Meyers that can be found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/20/sports/ncaafootball/20princeton.html?_r=1&ref=sports&oref=slogin.
Updated 12:25 p.m.
Princeton, in white tops and white pants, have taken the field at the beautiful Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston for warm-ups. After a quiet 15-minute bus ride from the hotel, the players seem focused and ready. Junior Dan Kopolovich, the back-up quarterback, appears to be in the secondary mix as well and might start. If he does, you can feel confident that he, Cart Kelly and the rest of the defensive backfield will keep their eyes on junior All-America Andre Roberts, who seems just as dangerous on punt returns as he does in the offense.
TigerBlog will keep fans updated throughout the game with updates, and the final recap, with updated stats, will be available on GoPrincetonTigers.com.