Friday, November 5, 2010

Tigers And Quakers x 5

If you, like TigerBlog, grew up in New Jersey and attended public school, then this was your favorite week of the academic year.

You'd have school on Monday and then be off on Tuesday for Election Day. Then it'd be back to school for Wednesday, followed by the New Jersey state teachers' convention, which would mean no school Thursday or Friday.

Factor in the two weekends, and it was two days of a school in a nine-day period. For a kid, what could be better?

TB always looked forward to the first week of November, knowing that it meant free days off.

Sadly, eventually everyone has to grow up, and so it is that the first week of November no longer means the same thing that it used to.

Actually, though, the first week of November is still a pretty cool time of year, since it means Princeton vs. Penn in all of the fall sports.

Yesterday, TB was trying to find the text he'd written about Princeton University last year for the NCAA water polo championship program. He started out with a search for any documents on his computer that had "water polo" or "NCAA" and then ultimately "Princeton," which of course brought up a bunch of files.

Among them was a certain video from a certain football play from four years ago:

Perhaps if you're a fan of Princeton - or Penn, for that matter - you remember the play?

If you don't remember the exact details, it was the second overtime of the 2006 Princeton-Penn game. The Tigers had fourth-and-goal at the Penn 1, and Rob Toresco tried to drive it in the through the middle. After two attempts at that, he realized he was going nowhere, and then, in one of the great heads-up moments of all-time, he turned and pitched the ball back to quarterback Jeff Terrell, who took it around the right side into the end zone.

It took Penn only one play to score a touchdown to make it 31-30, pending the extra point. There was a bad snap on the conversion, though, and the holder almost ran it in before being knocked out of bounds at about the 2, giving Princeton the win.

The play immediately became one of the most famous in Princeton football history, up there with the time the drunk fan jumped from the stands to join the Dartmouth line, the time where Bob Holly scored against Yale on the final play in 1981 to end a 14-year losing streak against the Bulldogs, the time Kevin Guthrie - or was it Derek Graham? - ran 95 yards for a touchdown after catching a short pass from Doug Butler in 1983 at Franklin Field.

The announcer, a nice young man named Keith, was so startled by what happened that all could he do was mutter that it was "one of the better plays" he'd ever seen, while his color man simply screamed.

As for TB, he was the public address announcer in the stadium, and he was on the phone with TB-Baltimore, who was covering soccer but wanted to get the details on the play. TB is pretty sure he said something like "Princeton just scored on the greatest play TB has ever seen."

A week later, Princeton rallied from two touchdowns back to beat Yale 34-31 as Terrell threw for 442 yards, and a week after that, Princeton zipped past Dartmouth to win the Ivy League championship.

The 2010 Princeton-Penn football game has championship implications for the Quakers and an opportunity for the Tigers to erase the frustrations of an entire season in one afternoon.

In all, Princeton and Penn will meet in five events in about 28 hours, four on this campus and one in West Philadelphia. Included in these events is a soccer doubleheader unprecedented in Ivy history:

Sprint football (tonight at 7 at Franklin Field) - Penn is looking for its 24th straight win over Princeton, though the fact that the series history is in Penn's favor by 55-41-2 gives an indication that Princeton was once a very good lightweight football team. Penn is in a three-way tie for first in the CSFL along with Army and Navy, who play each other tonight. A Penn win over Princeton would give Princeton its 70th straight CSFL loss and would give the Quakers a share of the title with the winner of the game between the academies.

Field hockey (tonight at 6 at Class of 1952 Stadium) - If you're a fan of national anthems, then this is the game for you. Princeton will honor its seniors by playing the anthems of each of their home nations, which means the U.S., Canadian and Dutch anthems will be played. As for the on-the-field situation, this is the end of the regular season, and Princeton has already clinched the Ivy League's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament (and could very well host the first two rounds next weekend). A win would give Princeton the outright Ivy title; a loss and a Yale win over Brown would mean a co-championship with Yale. Penn is 3-13 overall, 1-5 in the league.

Football (tomorrow at 3 on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium) - Penn is the only undefeated team in the league, ahead of Harvard, Yale and Brown, who have one loss each. The Quakers are home with Harvard next weekend in a game that could lead to a two- or three-way tie for the championship. As for Princeton, the Tigers are winless in the league with three to play, but there is still a lot to play for, including this game and then next week at Yale before finishing at home against Dartmouth.

Women's soccer (tomorrow at 4) - The first of the two Ivy League soccer championship games, the women's game is the simpler of the two as well. Either Princeton (with a win) or Penn (with a win or tie) will win the Ivy League's outright championship and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament; the other six teams have all been mathematically eliminated. Julie Shackford has already led Princeton to five Ivy titles and seven NCAA tournament appearances, including a run to the 2004 NCAA Final Four.

Men's soccer (tomorrow at 7) - You can't really ask for much more than this game. Princeton and Penn are both 5-0-0 in the league, with more than double the points of the next-best team. Both are ranked in the Top 20 (Penn is 13th, Princeton is 16th); Princeton has won 10 straight. The only downsides of the game, if there are any, is that 1) both teams will get into the NCAA tournament regardless of who wins and 2) there's another week to the season. Still, the winner of the game clinches at least a share of the Ivy title and definitely gets the automatic bid. A tie means that next week will decide the final standings, as Princeton is at Yale and Penn is home with Harvard. And how about the job Jim Barlow has done in the last few years, going from 6-8-3 in both 2005 and 2006 to 5-10-2 in 2007 to 5-9-3 in 2008 to 9-6-3 and the NCAA tournament last year and now 11-3-1 right now.

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