Princeton’s football team came roaring back in spectacular fashion this season, with thrilling wins over Big Three rivals Harvard and Yale and a 5–5 record that marked the team’s best finish since 2006. Coming off consecutive 1–9 seasons — and forecasts for another weak season — the Tigers defied expectations with a 4–3 record in the Ivy League, putting them in a third-place tie with Brown and Dartmouth.

“Everybody thought we were going to be last in the league, but this team really rallied,” said co-captain Mike ­Catapano ’13.

Over a four-week midseason stretch, the Tigers blew out the Ivy League, dealing defeats to Columbia, Lafayette, and Brown before shocking Harvard with a memorable homecoming comeback in which the Tigers scored 29 points in the fourth quarter to beat the defending champion 39–34. But Princeton tumbled from first to third place with losses to Cornell and Penn, surrendering fourth-quarter leads while committing four turnovers in each game.

Those struggles continued for 15 minutes at the Yale Bowl Nov. 10, as the Tigers fell behind the injury-ravaged Bulldogs in front of hundreds of Princeton fans. But just before halftime, cornerback Trocon Davis ’14 intercepted a pass at the Princeton goal line and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown, giving Princeton a lead it never relinquished in a 29–7 victory. “That was the biggest play of my entire life,” Davis said after the game, which earned the campus its first bonfire since 2006.

Princeton ended its season with a loss to Dartmouth, falling 35–21
Nov. 17. With several key players sidelined or limited by injuries, the Tigers surrendered three touchdowns to the Big Green in six minutes following halftime and lost by their largest margin of the season. But the team’s impressive gains gave it much to be proud of.

“That was the goal of our whole team, to bring pride back to this University and this football program,” ­Catapano said.