Princeton receiver Dylan Classi catches one of his 10 passes, including a TD, in Saturday’s game vs. Yale.
Photo: Brian Foley
Princeton falls to Yale 24-20, its first loss of the season, and sets up a dramatic end to the football season next weekend

With a chance to clinch the Ivy League title on the line, the Princeton football team dropped a hard-fought contest at Yale Saturday afternoon, 24-20.

The loss put the Tigers (8-1 overall, 5-1 Ivy League) into a first-place tie with Yale (7-2, 5-1). Princeton can earn a share of the Ivy League title with a victory over Penn at Powers Field on Saturday and can win the league outright with a win and a loss by Yale at Harvard.

In addition to missing out on an opportunity to clinch the league title in New Haven, the Tigers were unable to earn a bonfire celebration after doing so last year when they beat Harvard and Yale.

On Saturday, Princeton stifled Yale’s passing game, limiting the Bulldogs to just 65 yards. But the Tigers struggled to contain quarterback Nolan Grooms on the ground, allowing him to run for 152 yards and a touchdown. Yale finished with 297 rushing yards.

The Tigers opened with a red-zone interception and a turnover on downs on their first two possessions and fell behind 7-0 early in the second quarter after Yale running back Joshua Pitsenberger punched in a 1-yard touchdown run.

However, less than two minutes later, Princeton quarterback Blake Stenstrom ’24 connected on a 42-yard TD pass with Michael Axelrood ’23. The defense then stiffened over Yale’s next two possessions and allowed the Tigers to take the lead with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Classi ’23, making it 14-7 at halftime.

Classi, a senior captain, is one of the returning all-Ivy selections that formed the veteran core of this year’s team, along with defensive end Uche Ndukwe ’23, offensive tackle Henry Byrd ’23, and wide receiver Andrei Iosivas ’23, who earlier this week became just the third-ever Princeton football player to be invited to the Senior Bowl following the season.

Yale took a 17-14 lead midway through the third quarter, as Princeton’s offense struggled. The Bulldogs extended their advantage to 24-14 on a TD run by Grooms.

The Tigers responded at the start of the fourth quarter, putting together an efficient touchdown drive that ended with a 22-yard pass to Carson Bobo ’23. Kicker Jeffrey Sexton ’25 could not convert the extra point, making the score 24-20.

Princeton had a chance to take the lead when it took possession of the ball at its 20-yard line with 1:35 remaining. Stenstrom, who threw for 367 yards, led the team down the field to Yale’s 15-yard line. With seconds remaining, his pass to the end zone was incomplete to end the game.