Monday, October 15, 2018

First Down

There are some fun promotions run off the videoboard at Princeton's home football games.

One of them is "Two Truths And A Lie." You know this one. People give three facts about themselves, but only two of them are actually true. Then someone else has to try to figure out which one isn't true.

As it applies to Princeton football, a player is shown on the videoboard giving his three facts. The contestant on the field has to guess which one isn't true.

Hey, you want to play the TigerBlog version. Here are his three:

* he used to be able to dunk a basketball
* he can recite the entire "Cat In The Hat" from memory
* he has seen Princeton teams play games in eight different time zones

You think about that. TB will give you the answer later.

Meanwhile, here's also one where a contestant is asked a question and then has to give as many possible responses to it. Then a player is shown on the board answering the same question. Whoever gives more answers wins.

The question from the game Saturday against Brown, a game Princeton would win 48-10 to get to 5-0, was this: How many pizza toppings can you name?

When TigerBlog used to ride with the men's basketball team, back when he was in the newspaper business, the team would often get postgame pizzas delivered to the bus. TB and Sean Jackson, the 1992 Ivy League men's basketball Player of the Year, would split a mushroom pizza.

TB is fine with mushrooms. And peppers and onions. Red peppers more than green, but either way. And sausage. And meatball. Or sausage and meatball. Or chicken parmigiana.

You know what TB can't stand on pizza? Pineapple. And both the contestant on the field and the Princeton player said "pineapple." TB had to call them out about the pineapple situation over the Princeton Stadium PA system afterwards.

Of course one of them also said marshmallow. What's up with that?

The promotion came, TB believes, in the second quarter of the game. The "Two Truths and A Lie" came in the third. The TB answer, by the way, is that he's never dunked a basketball.

By the end of the first quarter, Princeton led 14-0. By the middle of the second, it was 28-0.

And so what if this marked the first time that 1) Princeton didn't score 30 points in the first half and 2) a team scored against Princeton in the second. Neither was a factor on this day, when Princeton dominated from start to finish.

The key play of the game was the first one. Brown won the toss and deferred, which gave Princeton the ball. After the kickoff, out came the Tiger offense, the one ranked No. 1 in the FCS in scoring and total yards per game.

This time, though, John Lovett, the one with the keys that start that offensive engine, was not out there. Instead, it was Kevin Davidson, a junior from Danville, Calf., in the driver's seat.

And what happened on that first play? Davidson threw a beautiful deep ball to Stephen Carlson for 39 yards, and the Tigers were in business. It took six more plays to get into the end zone on a pass from Davidson to Ryan Quigley, and Princeton was off and running.

Davidson would throw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, and Carlson and Jesper Horsted combined for 296 yards and 21 receptions, three of those for TDs.

The highlight play was a 62-yard strike from Davidson to Horsted for the second score of the game. Horsted ran a crossing route, Davidson threw one that led him to the sideline and Horsted snagged it out of the air and turned the corner, beating a Brown defensive back who appeared to have an angle on him.

Really, though, that first play was huge. Davidson, presumably, had some nerves for his first start, and the entire team probably wondered how it would play out without Lovett, who had been completely dominant through four weeks.

All of that, any uncertainty at all, was gone after that first pass. TigerBlog actually can't remember too many moments like that, actually, where he could pretty much feel an entire team exhale and get down to the business as usual.

For Princeton, business as usual through the first half of the season has meant five games like this one - games that were over before the fourth quarter. That's been the story of the first half of the year.

The story of the second half of the year will be decided by the next five weeks, beginning this Saturday at Harvard.

Right now, Princeton and Dartmouth are both 5-0 and have both followed somewhat similar scripts. Those two meet on Powers Field on Nov. 3, after the trip to Cambridge and a home game against Cornell. In other words, there's no sense looking ahead to Dartmouth yet.

As for Week 5, it was a great all-around team performance again, especially from Kevin Davidson in his first career start. The turning point of the game doesn't always have to wait.

On this day, it came on the literal first down.

No comments: