By all measures, Oct. 3 was a miserable day for Princeton football. First, Columbia routed the Tigers 38–0 in their Ivy League opener — Princeton’s worst loss in its 79-game series with the Lions. Then, minutes after the final buzzer, head coach Roger Hughes announced to reporters that All-Ivy tailback Jordan Culbreath ’10 was hospitalized with anemia and would miss the rest of his senior season.
The news about Culbreath, a team captain, added a melancholy coda to Princeton’s defeat. A week earlier at Lehigh, he had walked gingerly to the locker room after a routine running play just before halftime. His initial injury was an ankle sprain, but team physicians later diagnosed anemia as well, Hughes said.
With Culbreath out of the lineup against Columbia, Princeton’s offense struggled. The Tigers fumbled twice in the first half, setting up a touchdown and a field goal by the Lions. In the third quarter, Princeton quarterback Tommy Wornham ’12 floated an ill-advised pass toward the right sideline, and Columbia defensive back Jared Morine intercepted it, sprinting 51 yards for a touchdown to give the Lions a 17–0 lead.
Columbia quarterback M.A. Olawale put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter when he connected with receiver Mike Stephens on a 50-yard touchdown pass. Five minutes later, Austin Knowlin, the Lions’ star receiver, caught a short pass, twisted out of linebacker Brad Stetler ’10’s grasp, and dashed to the goal line, leaping across for another score. A rushing touchdown by Leon Ivery with 2:20 remaining completed the fourth-quarter onslaught.
Princeton did little to generate its own scoring chances. The only Tiger to find the end zone was Kenny Gunter ’11, who broke through the defense on a second-quarter run that was negated by a holding penalty. Princeton never crossed Columbia’s 20-yard line.
In the previous game at Lehigh, Princeton won 17–14 despite an uneven performance on offense. The Tigers gained just 163 yards in the game, and 68 of them came on one play, a second-quarter touchdown run by Wornham.
“Clearly, we’ve got to find some answers offensively,” Hughes said after the Columbia loss. “I don’t know that our approach is wrong, to this point, but clearly, we’ve got to make some changes to get more productivity. ... I was really disappointed, frankly, because I thought we had one of the best weeks of practice that we’ve had.”