Quarterback Chad Kanoff '17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Quarterback Chad Kanoff ’17 (Office of Athletic Communications)
Quarterback Chad Kanoff '17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

On Saturday night, Princeton became the last Division I football team to start its season, and the Tigers began it in style, bringing home the first season-opening win in Head Coach Bob Surace ’90’s five years with the program. Princeton beat Lafayette 40-7, the largest margin of victory in an opener since a 1955 win over Rutgers.

Neither team scored in the first quarter, but by halftime, the Tigers were up 23-0. Two years ago, the team had been in the same position, up 22-3 against Lehigh in a game Princeton eventually lost, 29-28.

“We have a lot of returners, so probably 45 of the guys were there when we lost to Lehigh, and the first half had looked just like that,” Surace said.

The veteran team remembered the lesson of the 2013 opener. “We sustained our energy and had some really strong plays,” Surace said. “We were able to put blinders on and just play.”

Surace said he was excited to see Trevor Osborne ‘17 on the receiving end of Chad Kanoff ’17’s first career touchdown pass. (Kanoff, in his first game as a starter, completed 20 of 31 attempts for 256 yards with one interception.) The coach also was happy to see Khamal Brown ’16, who played as a cornerback his first three years, look comfortable playing as a safety in his first game in that position.

The offensive line had an impressive debut, paving the way for more than 300 rushing yards and excelling in pass protection. “I think they only touched quarterback twice,” Surace said.

Part of that offensive line was junior tackle Mason Darrow. For Darrow, Saturday night’s win marked the end of a tremendous week. He publicly came out as gay on Tuesday, when an OutSports article featured his account of coming out to his teammates. Since then, the article has been shared on Facebook more than 26,000 times.

To top it off, Saturday night was the first time Darrow played since early in the 2014 season, when he tore his ACL against Columbia. After over months of slow rehab, Darrow was thrilled to be competing for the Tigers again.

“Honestly, it was just great to be back. That was the best I’ve ever felt walking out onto a football field,” he said.

As for the attention the OutSports article has given him, Darrow said everyone has been incredibly supportive and congratulatory, but the attention has been a little weird.

“Almost everyone that mattered already knew,” Darrow said. He was out to the football team before the article came out, though he hadn’t told the coaching staff. Darrow’s inbox has filled up with hundreds of emails, mostly from strangers and occasionally from old high school friends.

The article was an opportunity to set an example for people Darrow did not know. “I’ve been playing sports since before I knew what gay even was,” he said. “A gay athlete isn’t what you see all the time, so it was important for me to combat that stereotype of the gay community.”

“Everyone’s been asking me if it’s been a distraction,” Surace said, referring to the article’s release. “It wasn’t a distraction in any way on the team, though I’m sure Mason’s inbox filled up. I don’t think in 2015 it’s extraordinary that we support someone who’s gay … . That should be what’s expected.”

On the team, Darrow admits he’s not a vocal leader, but someone who tries to “lead by example.” And now off the field, that’s exactly what Darrow has succeeded in doing—setting an example as a hard-working, gay football player, breaking down a still-existing stereotype, simply by telling his story.

“Mason doesn’t want to be the center of attention. He’s a quiet guy, so I’m trying to support him in that way as well,” Surace said, suggesting that, on the field and in the locker room, it’s business as usual for Princeton football.

Quick Takes

On Saturday, men’s soccer defender Josh Miller ’16 scored in the 87th minute — only the second goal of his career — to lead Princeton over Boston University, 2-1. With the win, Princeton improved to 2-2 this season.

Sprint football fell to Chestnut Hill 48-13 on Saturday in Chestnut Hill’s inaugural football game. Princeton’s Chad Cowden ’17 threw for one touchdown and three interceptions in 11 pass attempts.

Women’s cross country placed third out of 11 teams at the Iona Meet of Champions. The meet was run at Van Cortlandt Park in New York, where this year’s Ivy League Championship will be held. Emily de la Bruyere ’16 was fourth with Brighie Leach ’19 a tenth of second behind her in fifth. The Tigers will host the Princeton Interregional Meet on Oct. 3 in preparation for the NCAA Regional on their home course in November.