Monday, October 1, 2018

A Pretty Much Perfect Friday Night

Today is the first day of October, which you may or may not have realized.

Sadly, it's getting darker earlier these days. Come Nov. 4, it'll be time to turn the clocks back an hour, and after that it'll be dark out even earlier than 5 in the afternoon. Yeah, that's no fun.

As it gets darker out, sometimes you lose track of what time it actually is. Take Friday night, for instance.

TigerBlog looked up and saw it was 7:50, which hardly seemed possible at that moment for some reason. Then he did some quick math, realizing that it was halftime of a football game that had begun at 6 and so yeah, it really was closing in on 8.

That football game was Princeton-Columbia, the Ivy opener for both. It matched a pair of teams who had started the season with two non-league wins, and it figured to be a good barometer of where both teams stood in the context of the coming league race.

As it turned out, if you're a Princeton fan, Friday night was perfect in a lot of ways. Final score: Princeton 45, Columbia 10.

For all of the big numbers Princeton put up, and TigerBlog will get to those shortly, consider that Princeton put up 45 points on one of the top defenses in the FCS on a night when Jesper Horsted - as big a weapon as there is anywhere - had 23 yards on two receptions.

A week earlier, Horsted caught three touchdown passes against Monmouth. The week before that, he caught two against Butler. He's Princeton's career leader in receiving touchdowns. For Princeton to put up 45 points on a night when Horsted didn't reach the end zone says a lot.

One player who did get there was Stephen Carlson, who caught five passes for 86 yards to go along with two receiving touchdowns.

Carlson has had a remarkable career. He's 6-4, 230 and agile, with great hands. He has 15 career touchdown receptions, and only four players in program history have more. One is Roman Wilson, who is one ahead of Carlson.

The other three are Horsted, the career leader with 20, and then Derek Graham (19) and Kevin Guthrie (also 16). That's it. That's the entire list ahead of Carlson.

TigerBlog watched Graham and Guthrie play for Princeton in the early 1980s, and for all the time since, he thought he'd never see a better tandem. Horsted and Carlson? They're different, and the game is different. But you can make a case for them.

Meanwhile, back at the gaudy numbers, Princeton has, in three games, scored 44, 30 and 30 points - in the first half. Think about that. Also, Princeton has yet to allow a second half point.

Columbia came into the game this weekend ranked second in the FCS in rushing defense, allowing 35 per game. Princeton got more than 10 times that amount, with 360 yards on the ground alone.

The game was 30-10 at the half, which meant it was pretty much over by then. Any doubt was erased when Collin Eaddy went 66 yards for a touchdown on Princeton's first third-quarter possession.

The straw that stirred the drink, as Reggie Jackson used to say about himself, was once again John Lovett though. Lovett was just a force who overwhelmed the game.

For the night, the Tiger quarterback put up 174 rushing yards while scoring two of his own TDs on the ground, to go with the two he threw to Carlson. This came one week after he was named national Player of the Week by two different outlets.

In Lovett, you have a quarterback who is built like a linebacker, who can throw for 332 yards and five touchdowns one week and then run for 174 and two TDs the next and who has a league Player of the Year award already on his resume. That's quite a weapon.

Through three weeks of the season, every team in the league has played one league game, which means four 1-0 teams (Princeton, Dartmouth, Harvard, Yale). Princeton has Lehigh at home this Saturday at 1, and then it's six straight Ivy games as the sprint to a championship chase begins.

As TB said, it's October now. The Ivy championship will be won in November.

As for September, you can't win a championship then, and Princeton has hardly done that. Still, it was a 3-0 month, one that ended with a perfect Friday night. 

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