Trailing Brown by four points with 31 seconds remaining and 79 yards to cover, Princeton needed a miracle — and almost got one.
Quarterback Andrew Dixon ’11, who had entered the Oct. 16 game in relief of injured starter Tommy Wornham ’12, completed a short pass to Shane Wilkinson ’13. Wilkinson turned and flipped the ball to Trey Peacock ’11, and as the defense converged, Peacock tossed the ball back to Dixon. Dixon again spotted Wilkinson, this time near the right sideline, and fired a lateral pass, giving the sophomore the ball back with an open running lane.
The Bears eventually caught Wilkinson, forcing him out of bounds at the Brown 45-yard line to end Princeton’s heroics. Dixon was sacked on the next play, and Brown held on for a 17–13 win, dropping the Tigers to 1–4 this season (0–2 Ivy League).
For head coach Bob Surace ’90, the game marked a step forward, particularly for Princeton’s defense, which had allowed 38.5 points per game in the season’s first four weeks.
“Everyone asked me all week, ‘Are these guys going to be resilient?’” Surace said. “You saw how much energy they came out with. That’s the type of guys we have. We’ll keep fighting, keep plugging away, and we’ll keep getting better.”
Princeton’s afternoon started with promise when Wornham led the Tigers 69 yards on the opening drive, capping the possession with a 1-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak. But on the next drive, Wornham threw an interception and was injured on the play. With the starting quarterback sidelined, the Tigers’ offense struggled for most of the day, converting just two of 12 third-down plays after Wornham’s departure. Running backs Jordan Culbreath ’11 and Matt Zimmerman ’11 also left the game with injuries.
Two field goals by Patrick Jacob ’12 gave the Tigers a 13–0 lead before halftime, and the Princeton defense played its best game to date, holding Brown scoreless until late in the third quarter. But the Bears (3–2, 2–0 Ivy) held the ball for 22 minutes in the second half and wore down the Tigers behind strong running by Zachary Tronti. Brown took the lead, 14–13, with 7:39 remaining in the fourth quarter and added a field goal five minutes later.
The Brown game followed a pair of lopsided losses for Princeton: 42–14 at Columbia Oct. 2, and 44–10 vs. Colgate Oct. 9. In each of those games, Princeton scored first before surrendering a string of unanswered points (35 by the Lions, 44 by the Raiders), and in each case, turnovers played a significant role, stalling the Tigers’ offense in the opening half.