It has been seven years since Princeton football fans have seen their team win at least three of the first four games of the season, and when the Tigers began the season 4-0 in 2006, it turned out to be an exciting year that included a bonfire and an Ivy League championship.
Saturday’s 42-26 win over Lafayette gave the Tigers a three-game winning streak as they begin the hardest part of their schedule. Princeton’s impressive offensive attack has been led by its quarterbacks, specifically Quinn Epperly ’15.
Sharing time at the quarterback position last season with Connor Michelsen ’15, Epperly’s most well-known pass came with 13 seconds left to play in the 2012 Harvard game to receiver Roman Wilson ’14 — a touchdown that capped Princeton’s comeback win. This season has been an extension of that success. In the Georgetown game, Epperly became the Tiger to rush for four touchdowns in a game since Keith Elias ’94. Against Columbia, he became the first Tiger to throw for four touchdowns in a game since Chad Roghair ’91. And in the win over Lafayette, he was responsible for five more touchdowns (four passing, one rushing).
“Quinn did some really good things,” head coach Bob Surace ’90 said afterward. “I thought he really executed well.”
Epperly and Wilson connected six times for two of Epperly’s passing touchdowns. He also threw scoring passes to receiver Connor Kelley ’15 and tight end Des Smith ’14.
“I think the way our offense is designed a lot of guys are contributing, we’re working extremely hard all practice or all week long in practice, and that’s just how it works. One guy one week will have a breakout game … and anybody can have that type of game at anytime,” Kelley said. “That’s what makes our offense really great.”
Michelsen also has contributed significantly to the offense, leading the team in passing yards this season and driving the Tigers down the field on six of their seven scoring drives against Lafayette. Epperly, a dual running and passing threat, often comes into the game when Princeton reaches the red zone.
“I think that definitely a lot more credit should be given to [Michelsen] than probably is,” Epperly said. “A lot of those drives that I’m scoring on he’s leading down the field and I’m just kind of running it in at the end, so he definitely probably deserves more credit than he’s been given.”
Epperly has taken full advantage of the running lanes that defenses have given him, rushing for 172 yards on the season, third on the team behind backs DiAndre Atwater ’16 and Brian Mills ’14. He leads the team with eight of the team’s 13 rushing touchdowns this season.
“He’s continuing to just develop,” Surace said of Epperly. “When we recruited him he had really good size and speed, and we knew as he got stronger the run skill is going to be there.”
Based on his high-school experience, Epperly did not expect to be a running quarterback coming into college.
“My coach would not let me run really, so I was pretty much purely a passing quarterback in high school,” he said. “I always thought it was kind of funny that I came here and it’s been focused more on my running; in high school all I did was throw.”
Men’s water polo moved to 6-1 in the CWPA Southern Division standings, topping Johns Hopkins, 11-5, and Navy, 16-11, on Saturday before falling 12-5 to Bucknell on Sunday. Jovan Jeremic ’17 scored eight times in the Navy game. The Tigers are 13-4 overall.
Men’s soccer remains undefeated in Ivy League play after a 0-0 tie with Brown on Saturday. Senior Seth MacMillan had six saves on the day, matching his career high, as the Tigers improved to 4-5-1 overall and 1-0-1 Ivy.
Women’s volleyball fell to Yale 3-1 on Saturday, despite three service aces, six kills, three digs and a block from junior Nicole Kincade and 12 kills and 12 digs from sophomore Kendall Peterkind. The Tigers are now 2-3 in Ivy League play and 6-9 overall.