Monday, October 18, 2021

Setting Up A Big Game

TigerBlog has no idea what was said on the Princeton football sideline, if anything, after Brown's Joseph Shell picked up a fumble and returned it 71 yards for a touchdown.

What TB does know is that it's hard to imagine a team answering so decisively.

The situation was this: Princeton was up 42-21 in the third quarter and driving to put the game completely away. Instead, Shell's TD stunningly made it 42-28 instead of 49-21, and suddenly it was a game again, one in which Brown had all the momentum.

Get a stop and the ball back, and now the Bears would really be in position to make things tough for Princeton. Things didn't get any easier for the Tigers when the kickoff went for a touchback.

So what did Princeton do? 

Well, two plays later, the ball was in the end zone again. Two plays, 75 yards, 31 seconds, 49-28.

The final score would be Princeton 56, Brown 42. The game essentially ended after that answer, though.

The first play saw Cole Smith find Jacob Birmelin over the middle for what became a 67-yard catch and run. Collin Eaddy took it from there, running it in from the eight. 

The win improved to Princeton to 5-0 on the season. It sets up a game whose implications are obvious for this coming Saturday, when equally 5-0 Harvard comes to Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

The game against Brown was a wild offensive showcase that features 98 points (the most ever between the teams in the series) and 1,140 yards of total offense, of which 807 came in the air.

Smith's 67-yard completion to Birmelin was part of his own nearly perfect day, as the Tiger senior quarterback completed 25 of 27 passes for 476 yards and four touchdowns. Those 476 yards were the second-most in a game in program history, behind only Bob Holly's 501 against Yale in the famous 1981 Princeton win.

Smith also became the fourth Princeton quarterback to have two 400-yard passing games in a career. The other three? Holly, Doug Butler and Chad Kanoff. Of course, perhaps Smith's is more impressive, in that he's only started five games.

The game also saw Eaddy rush for four touchdowns, and 130 yards on 15 carries. The four touchdowns were one off the school single-game record, set by Ellis Moore in 1967 against Harvard (unless you count the 11 that Philip King scored against Columbia in 1889).

Eaddy now has seven rushing touchdowns in the last two games. Eaddy now has 28 for his career, tied with Ellis for seventh all-time at Princeton, two away from tying the great Cosmo Iacavazzi for sixth. The school record is 49, by Keith Elias, (unless you count the 62 Knowlton Ames – nicknamed "Snake" – had from 1886-89). Eaddy also had 2,190 career rushing yards, sixth all-time at Princeton and 132 away from Walt Snickenberger for fifth. 

While the subject is Princeton football records and Eaddy, he is now averaging 5.7 yards per carry in his career, or more exactly 5.66 (2,190 yards, 387 carries). The program record is also 5.7 yards per carry, held by Elias, who had 4,208 yards on 736 carries, or 5.72. That's pretty close.

In fact, if you don't want to do the math, TB already did it for you. For Eaddy to be above Elias now, he'd need to have 29 more yards at this point. At least that's what TB came up with.

Princeton is 5-0 for the third straight season. The first one in that run got to 10-0. The last one got to 7-0 before finishing 8-2. 

Up next is Harvard. Both teams have been very impressive. Their one common opponent is Brown, whom Harvard defeated 49-17. 

TigerBlog has already scouted out the long-range forecast for Princeton. Apparently it will be sunny for all of the next 10 days, including Saturday, when it will be clear and a high of 61.

Of course, who knows if that will hold up. If it does, though, it will be a perfect backdrop for a big game, with two 5-0 teams going head-to-head. There's a third 5-0, 2-0 Ivy team, and that's Dartmouth, who has also looked really good through the first half of the season.

It'll be Dartmouth at Harvard a week from Saturday. The Friday night after that will be Princeton at Dartmouth. Much will be revealed by then.

In the meantime, that little round-robin begins Saturday on Powers Field. 

With a record-setting offensive explosion behind them, the Tigers can now put their full focus into that.

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