Saturday, October 4, 2008

LIVE UPDATES: Football vs. Columbia

Updated 3:41

It's time for the Princeton offense to get to work, as Columbia has just taken a 24-21 lead. A huge quarterback scramble by Shane Kelly and a long third-down completion keyed a clutch drive by the Lions, which ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jordan Davis. There is 10:35 left in the game.

It's time to head to the field and prepare for postgame, so please keep up with the online radio broadcast or the Live Stats. A full game recap will be available on after the game.

Updated 3:32

The fourth quarter is about to begin and Princeton clings to a 21-17 lead. Columbia just moved fairly deep into Princeton territory, but a couple of tackles for losses left Columbia with a 39-yard field goal attempt. The Lions chose to run a fake, but Princeton was ready and made the stop.

Columbia's defense came up with a 3-and-out and now takes over at the Princeton 49-yard-line with 14:19 remaining.

Updated 3:22

Columbia cut the deficit to four points again with an effective touchdown drive. Ray Rangel made a strong cutback move on an option run and scored Columbia's second touchdown of the game. It is never easy to win at Wien Stadium, where Columbia always plays hard.

The Lions just followed up with a stop and now have the ball with a chance to take their second lead of the game. There are five minutes remaining in the quarter.

Updated 3:11

Is Terrell-esque an adjective? It might not be in Webster's Dictionary, but Princeton fans know what it means. Brian Anderson just had a Terrell-esque opening drive to move Princeton's lead to 21-10. While Culbreath ran well, two passes by Anderson were keys to the score. First, there was a perfectly lofted pass on a seam to Trey Peacock for 34 yards. A few plays later, Anderson took the shotgun snap, stepped back, around and then up in the pocket, all to avoid the rush. As it happened, he waved Thanheiser towards the end zone - he had been at the 5-yard-line and nobody was behind him. Thanheiser made his cut away from the defender and was an easy target for Anderson, who threw his first touchdown pass since late in The Citadel game.

Updated 2:36

The Columbia offense did a nice job getting out of terrible field position and turning it into three points. The spread option posed the same problems to the Tiger defense as it has to Columbia's - besides running misdirection plays, one deep pass got the Lions into field goal range. In this case, a pass interference call in the end zone put Columbia at the 15, and Rocholl made the kick. It's halftime, 14-10 Princeton.

Updated 2:21

Both defenses have settled in, especially against the opposing rushing attacks. The Columbia defense just came up with a particularly big stop after a shanked punt by Lion senior Jon Rocholl, who has been one of the league's most consistent special teams performers over the last four years.

Another consistent special teams performer recently has been Princeton punter Ryan Coyle, who just pinned Columbia at the 1-yard-line. Credit the speedy Meko McCray for getting downfield and stopping it short of the end zone.

Updated 2:03

The Princeton defense answered the call, stopping Columbia on a 3rd and short at midfield and forcing a punt, which was sent out of bounds at the Princeton 17-yard-line. Amazingly, Matt Ransom hasn't returned a punt since the season opener.

The Tiger offense went right back to it, going 83 yards in four plays. The key was a 69-yard pass play up the middle of the field to Thanheiser, who was forced out of bounds at the 9. One thing about the spread option offense is, when it's run well, it does force the safeties to respect several options in front of them. That often leads to single coverage on deep routes, which was the case this time. Culbreath scored on a short run to move the lead to 14-7 with little time left in the first quarter.

Princeton just forced another punt, thanks to the third sack in as many games by Collin McCarthy and a third-down pass breakup by Dan Kopolovich. And Ransom even got a chance to return it. 1st-and-10 at the 20, 13:02 remaining.

Updated 1:48

The last time Princeton played Columbia in New York City, the two teams combined for three total touchdowns. In less than nine minutes today, they've already scored two.

Columbia took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards in seven plays for a touchdown. Using a clever array of runs, including a pair of options off the right side of the line, the Lions' offense looked extremely smooth on its first drive. Quarterback Shane Kelly, who seems equally dangerous with his legs or his arm, kept on an option and scored from 15 yards out.

The Princeton offense matched the effort on its drive, going 60 yards in 11 plays. The Tigers got first downs from Matt Zimmerman, Will Thanheiser and Jordan Culbreath on the drive, which mostly featured the spread option run game. The scoring play came on third and short at the 5 yard line; the Tigers faked a run to Zimmerman and sent its receivers into the end zone. That left Culbreath, who drifted towards the left sidelines, alone. Anderson had to loft a pass over a defender and seemed to put it too high, but Culbreath was able to tip it to himself, gain his balance and cut inside past one defender. That's three touchdowns in three games for Culbreath, who entered the game as the Ivy's leading rusher.

Time for a deep breath, and perhaps a little defense...

Updated 12:53 p.m.

Greetings from New York City and Wien Stadium. After a rainy, cold bus ride up the turnpike and over the George Washington Bridge, the players are warming up under clear skies. The temperature is warming up nicely... perfect weather for an Ivy League opener. Sitting in the press box, which provides a beautiful view of the Henry Hudson Bridge over the far bleachers, it's clear that both teams have a terrific opportunity today. While one game doesn't make or break a season, it sure doesn't hurt to get off to a good start (just ask Brown and Cornell).

For Princeton, specifically, the opportunity to get out to a 1-0 start and win one of your three road games is in front of them. Every even year, the Tigers get four home league games and three road ones. To win your first game on the road and know that three of the next four will be on Powers Field sets you up for a potentially special season.

Of course, the opportunity to win at home belongs to Columbia today, and despite its record, this isn't a team to overlook. The Lions have always played hard under Norries Wilson and have always been difficult to beat at home during Roger Hughes' tenure as coach. Hail Marys, blocked kicks, inspired performances by reserves - you never know what will tip the scales here. It will be interesting to see who steps up for the Tigers today.

A couple of late scratches to the projected starting lineup: DE Tom Methvin will miss his second straight game, and LB Jeff Jackson, coming off a brilliant effort against Lehigh, is also out. Joel Karacozoff and Jameel Adeniji will move into their starting spots.

Just as I did at The Citadel, I'll try to provide timely updates as we go. It won't be a running play-by-play... you can get that with Live Stats or through the radio call on Instead, this area will provide some thoughts throughout the game about drives, key plays or certain players making big impacts.

It's the Ivy League opener... step one on a seven-step path to a league championship.

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