Monday, November 12, 2018

And That's 9-0

Before TigerBlog gets to the Princeton's 59-43 win over Yale in football Saturday afternoon that clinched at least a share of the Ivy League championship and a bonfire, he'd like to first recognize any and all veterans out there.

There is a long history at Princeton University and in its Department of Athletics of military service. There are many who have lost their lives in the service of their country, including the great Hobey Baker himself.

TigerBlog once wrote a story about a hockey/lacrosse/lightweight football player named Tyler Campbell, who died in Southern France in 1944. You can read it HERE.

Campbell Field, the practice field next to Princeton Stadium, is named for him.

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, a war that killed 10 million soldiers and eight million civilians. Nearly one-quarter of the male population of France was killed in those four years.

MotherBlog spent a lot of time working with veteran's organizations, and TigerBlog met a lot of people who were in wheelchairs after their service, especially from Vietnam. TB's level of respect for military members is extraordinarily high, and he knows how much is owed to them, historically and today.

As for the football game, well, it was certainly a wild one. TigerBlog wondered how much Princeton had left after its very physical and very emotional 14-9 win over Dartmouth a week earlier in a matchup of teams that came in unbeaten. The challenge was to come back on the road at a huge rival in the 141st meeting between the two.

Princeton came into the game allowing just nine points per game and was just one week removed from maybe the best defensive performance that the Tigers have had in decades. Yale scored 43 points, not to mention 595 total yards.

And yet for all of that offense, Princeton was in control the entire way. And why? There were two reasons.

First, there was the matter of the fact that it was 21-0 Tigers after a little more than four minutes had been played. Or 28-0 before Yale scored. Or 42-7 in the second quarter. Yale deserves credit for not quitting, but the Bulldogs never got closer than the final margin of 16 the rest of the way.

The defense gave up yards and points, but it also made every big play it needed to, whether it was to end drives while Princeton built the big lead or get a few stops it needed to keep Yale from getting too close. 

It was 7-0 Tigers after one play, which, if you read Friday's blog, was very reminiscent of the 1995 Princeton-Yale game, the last time Princeton had entered a game at 8-0.

If you didn't read it and don't want to click HERE, TigerBlog will give you the very brief recap: Princeton's Brock Harvey ran 92 yards for a touchdown on the first play, and Princeton lost 21-13.

As Collin Eaddy took the handoff from John Lovett and started his way down the field on Princeton's first play Saturday, TigerBlog thought "go" and "oh no, it's 1995 all over again" at the same time. That continued for 75 yards, the length of Eaddy's run for the first touchdown scored in the game.

Neither Princeton nor Eaddy were remotely close to being done.

In fact, there'd be 13 more touchdowns to follow for a total of eight by Princeton and six by Yale, and there'd also be another 191 yards and two more TDs on the ground from Eaddy alone.

Added together for Eaddy it came to 266 rushing yards, or the fifth-best single-game total in program history. And Eaddy wasn't the only one who had a big game on the ground.

In fact, Princeton had three backs go over 100 yards for the game - Eaddy, Ryan Quigley (113 and two touchdowns) and Lovett (110 yards and two touchdowns).

The teams combined for an extraordinary 1,229 yards of offense, and usually when that happens, both teams are getting big chunks through the air. Somewhat fascinatingly, Princeton came within two yards of the school record for rushing yards in game (as a team, Princeton ran for 489 yards; the record is 491, set in 1957 against Columbia) while Yale set the record for passing yards in a game against Princeton with 465.

Princeton was a rushing machine in the game as the offense simply imposed its will on the Bulldogs. It seemed like every running play was going to go the distance, or at least get another first down. In fact, the 489 yards came on 56 attempts (nowhere close to the record of 85, against Dartmouth in 1968), which means an average of 8.7 per carry. That's extraordinary.

Princeton was doing this with an offensive line that was consistently opening big holes and a trio of backs who knew how to take full advantage of them. It was actually somewhat beautiful to watch.

When it was over, Princeton was 9-0, with one more game, next Saturday at home against Penn. Should Princeton win that one, it would complete the first perfect season the program has had since 1964.

No matter what happens next week, Princeton has already clinched at least a share of the championship. There will also be a bonfire, courtesy of a Big Three sweep of Harvard and Yale.

This has been an amazing season for the Tigers, and one of the best parts is the way it is a complete team effort. It's not just one player or one unit that's been carrying the team.

It could be Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson. It could be the defense. It could be anyone at any time.

This past Saturday, it was an unstoppable rushing offense, one that started on the first play and didn't let up until the Tigers got to 9-0.

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