Football coach Bob Surace ’90 took his son A.J. to a batting cage on the north side of Princeton in the summer of 2015, but midway through practice they got distracted.
“There’s some guys playing on the field,” Surace recalled. “There’s a guy cranking out home run after home run after home run — into the trees, into the soccer fields, like Tim Tebow at batting practice. I’m not really paying attention, but then A.J. says, ‘I think that’s John Lovett.’ He must have hit balls 400 feet to that soccer field.”
It had been more than four years since Lovett, one of Surace’s quarterbacks, had played organized baseball. The takeaway? He seems to do everything well.
Lovett’s range of athleticism has been on display this fall as he’s helped Princeton chase the Ivy League championship. Heading into the final week of the season, Princeton, Harvard, and Penn were tied at the top of the Ivy standings, each with a 5–1 record in league play. (The results of the Nov. 19 games were not available for this issue.)
Through nine games, Lovett was second among the Tigers behind Chad Kanoff ’17 with 552 passing yards, and ahead of Kanoff in completion percentage and quarterback efficiency. He ranked third on the team in rushing yards with 375, gaining an impressive 4.3 yards per carry. He was tied for third on the team in receptions with 23 for 208 yards. And as a passer, runner, or receiver, he had a hand in 28 of Princeton’s 42 touchdowns.
The Tigers lost an overtime heartbreaker to Harvard, 23–20, Oct. 22, but bounced back with impressive wins over Cornell and Penn. Against the Big Red Oct. 29, Lovett passed for four touchdowns, ran for two, and received another in a 56–7 rout. In the Penn game Nov. 5, defense earned the headlines as the Tigers shut out the Quakers, handing them their first Ivy loss. Lovett again led Princeton’s scoring, with one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown in the 28-0 win.
When Penn beat Harvard in a Friday night game Nov. 11, Princeton suddenly had a controlling stake in the Ivy title chase. The next day, the Tigers’ defense was in top form at Yale, allowing just three points. Lovett again drove the offense in key moments, running for three of Princeton’s four touchdowns in a 31–3 victory.