By all measures, Nov. 17 was a difficult day for Princeton football. The 37-point loss to Yale tied the largest margin of defeat for Princeton in the two teams’ 142 meetings and was Princeton’s worst since 2014, when they lost 49-7 to Harvard. At the Tigers’ last home game of the year — and the team’s Senior Day — it was certainly not the result the Tigers were hoping for.
The game seemed to be decided by a few critical missteps early on in the game. And for the second week in a row, they belonged to Princeton. The Bulldogs were able to run away with a 51-14 win.
Running back Collin Eaddy ’21 was the first to put points on the scoreboard for the Tigers, running for a 15-yard touchdown early in the second quarter and shrinking the Bulldogs early 10-point lead to just three. That would be the Tigers only scoring play in the first half, however, as a muffed punt and a failed fourth-down conversion by Princeton were enough for the Bulldogs to rack up another 20 points in the second quarter and take a 30-7 lead.
“We were making mistakes in key opportunities,” head coach Bob Surace ’90 said afterward. “We’ve got to figure that out.”
The Tigers’ offense, which had averaged 35 points per game going into Saturday, never recovered in the second half. The Bulldogs put the game out of reach at the start of the third quarter when Yale’s Kyle Ellis made a diving interception off quarterback Kevin Davidson ’20, allowing Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings to find Patrick Conte and score his fifth touchdown of the day. While the Tigers did manage to score a second touchdown on a short rush by quarterback Zach Keller ’20, it was not nearly enough for a comeback.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do,” receiver Andrew Griffin ’20 said. “We needed at some point to make a stand, make a score, hit a big play, and none of those things happened.”
For their part, the Bulldogs played a clean game, making very few mistakes. Rawlings completed 22 of 34 passes for 338 yards and six touchdowns (breaking Yale’s single-game record), including four touchdowns in the first half. Princeton’s loss, on the other hand, comes after a setback last weekend to Dartmouth, which snapped the Tigers’ 17-game win streak. That game was played at Yankee Stadium to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first college football game.
Next week, the Tigers will have a chance to round out their season on a high note when they face Penn on the Quakers’ home turf. Since Cornell upset Dartmouth on Saturday, the Tigers still have slim shot at the Ivy Title. But that will require both Yale and Dartmouth to lose next week and the Tigers to prevail.