R.J. Paige ’17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

R.J. Paige ’17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

For New York Mets fans, it has felt like a lifetime since their team last made the playoffs in 2006. As the Mets clinched their first National League East title in nine years on Saturday night, the Princeton football team also completed an important feat for the first time since ’06: starting the season 2-0, thanks to a 52-26 win over Lehigh at Princeton Stadium.

Leading the explosive Tiger offense, junior quarterback Chad Kanoff is beginning to reap the fruits of his labor. A native of Pacific Palisades, Calif., Kanoff arrived at Princeton as one of the top recruits in the country, ranked 14th nationally among dual-threat quarterbacks by ESPN.com. Kanoff’s arrival in 2013, however, gave him little opportunity to start: Standout quarterback Quinn Epperly ’15 was at the helm, and went on to earn 2013 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year honors while leading the Tigers to a share of the conference title. With hopes of getting more reps during the 2014 season, Kanoff was sidelined by an injury for his entire sophomore season.

After Kanoff’s first two performances this fall, people unfamiliar with the new quarterback’s background would hardly be able to guess that he has spent a majority of his college career on the sidelines. He has racked up 451 passing yards and three touchdowns in blowout victories over Lafayette and Lehigh. Behind Kanoff’s strong passing game and the Tigers’ remarkable rushing, Princeton has scored 92 points in its first two games, better than any squad since the 1950 team scored 100 points in the first two games of its national championship season.

The Princeton defense aided the scoring outburst against Lehigh when linebacker R.J. Paige ’17 returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. But the key to the win was another balanced offensive performance engineered by Kanoff.

Kanoff attributes a lot of his early success to the mentorship that teammates have provided along the way.

“Quinn [Epperly] and [quarterback] Connor Michelsen [’15] taught me how to practice,” Kanoff said. “They taught me how to train like a college quarterback in the weight room, in the film room, and even in eating. They showed me how to act with the offense.”

Kanoff and crew’s early performances bode well for the Ivy schedule, which kicks off on Friday evening at home against Columbia (0-2). The last time the Lions visited Princeton, they were sent home packing with a crushing 53-7 defeat. Even with Columbia’s tough defensive line, Kanoff and the Tigers have shown that they are more than equipped to pile up points as they head into October.

Quick Takes

Men’s soccer posted an impressive 3-1 victory on the road against Binghamton on Saturday, as senior forward Thomas Sanner scored twice in a span of 2:35 to lead the Tigers to their second straight win.

Women’s soccer began Ivy League play in dominant fashion, posting a 3-0 win at home over Yale on Saturday afternoon. With two goals on the day, junior forward Tyler Lussi has moved into a fourth-place tie with Jen Hoy ’13 on Princeton’s all-time scoring list with 36 career goals.