At Saturday’s Princeton-Harvard game, packed stands eagerly awaited a thrilling victory reminiscent of the past two meetings between last year’s Ivy League co-champions, but alas it was not to be. Instead, Tiger fans were stunned as they watched their team lose 49-7 to drop into third place in the Ivy standings.

Joe Rhattigan ’17 scored Princeton’s only points against Harvard with a rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter. (Office of Athletic Communications)
Joe Rhattigan'17 scored Princeton's only points against Harvard with a rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter. (Office of Athletic Communications)

The past two weekends the Tigers (3-3 overall, 2-1 Ivy) came out strong, and the defense showed no indication that the day would be any different on the opening drive. But when the offense took the field for its opening drive, it became apparent that this was not going to be the case.

The Tigers were their own worst enemy, with penalties proving too costly to overcome as they prevented the offense from extending drives whenever they seemed to be gaining momentum. Harvard’s explosive offense took away the rest of the Tigers’ momentum as it dominated in the second quarter.

“I’m definitely surprised, but they played really well,” senior linebacker and co-captain Mike Zeuli said. “They executed better than us and that’s what happens.”

With Princeton and Harvard leading the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) with two of the top five run defenses, Harvard’s initial success came from its passing game, which exploited mistakes in the Princeton secondary. But the Crimson did not stop there: the visitors threw for 392 yards, compared to the Tigers’ 190, and rushed for 306, compared to the Tigers’ 54.

“We had chances, and really we just threw away opportunities,” Zeuli said.

While still a close 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, Harvard quickly took control of the game and the Tigers went into halftime trailing 28-0.

“We could tell we were in a dog fight from the very beginning,” senior running back Will Powers said. “They’re a very physical team, and I feel like they just out-physicalled us today.”

The Tigers would eventually score only on their final drive of the game to avoid the shutout — Joe Rhattigan ’17 carried the ball on a two-yard touchdown run. Princeton has not been shut out since 2011, and hadn’t lost at home to an Ivy team since the season finale against Dartmouth in 2012.

“There’s not a lot of positives when you look at the stats sheet,” head coach Bob Surace ’90 said. “We’re going to have to find our way and come back tomorrow and move forward. That’s what you have to do in life, that’s what you have to do in sports.”

Saturday marked Harvard coach Tim Murphy’s 100th win and also was the biggest margin of victory for the Crimson in its history against Princeton.

“As much as this one tastes bad, we’ve got to move on,” senior quarterback and co-captain Quinn Epperly said. “It’s only one loss, and we still have a season to play, games to play. And I know the guys in the locker room — they’re not going to back down.”

Quick Takes

Men’s soccer (7-3-3 overall, 2-1-1 Ivy) extended its unbeaten streak to five games, topping Harvard 3-2 on Saturday. Senior forward Cameron Porter scored twice, while junior midfielder Brendan McSherry added a goal and an assist. The Tigers are now two points out of first place after handing Harvard its first Ivy loss this season.

Men’s heavyweight crew beat out both Yale and Boston University in the heavyweight eight race to win the Princeton Chase on Sunday. Women’s open crew finished fifth overall.

For the field hockey team, the weekend produced mixed results. Princeton beat Harvard, 1-0, on Saturday to remain in a tie for first place with Cornell and Columbia. But the Tigers dropped their final nonconference game to No. 5 Connecticut, 4-3, on Sunday, falling to 5-10 overall.