Just as Tigers Get Over the Hump, They Trip at Brown, 38-31
BY JAY GREENBERG
PROVIDENCE – Actually, it took a lot longer than just 16 seconds — the time required for Brown’s Alex Jette to take the opening kickoff up the middle untouched for a touchdown — to portend a long day for Princeton. As bad starts go, that was just the beginning.
The offense fumbled the ball away to the Bears on the second play from scrimmage. The Tigers committed three penalties, including multiple , to aid the Brown scoring drive that put the Bears up 14-7. And Princeton provided no safety help on a sideline pattern of a far-too-easy 55-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Fuller to Troy Doles.
So this very big hill to climb from 21-7 was booby-trapped by the Tigers themselves, not what they needed considering they came into the game minus a few key contributors. In many ways it was remarkable that the Princeton climbed all the way to the peak, which only added to the disappointment in seeing the Tigers trip themselves just when it looked like that, from there, it was going to be downhill.
After tying the game, 31-31, with 10 minutes to go on a clutch third down touchdown pass from Chad Kanoff to Scott Carpenter, the Tigers twice forced punts that almost had the game on Nolan Bieck’s shoe until twice Kanoff was hit as he threw and twice was intercepted.
The first, by Quintin Rizek at the Brown five on second-and ten from the Brown 25 with 6:55 to go, didn’t have to be fatal. But the second, by William Twyman, which set up Brown at the Princeton 42, was the killer. A Tiger defense without its best pass rusher and linebacker, on the field a whopping 11 more minutes than the Princeton offense, couldn’t hold Brown out of the red zone and, as it turned out, the end zone, either.
Johnny Pena ran seven yards with 57 to play to climax a five play 42-yard drive to give Brown (3-2, 1-1) a 38-31 win that puts Princeton (4-1, 1-1 Ivy) behind the 8-ball early in the league race.
“Both (interceptions) were on me,” said Kanoff, “One, I should have gone outside and the other I should have just kept.”
He also suffered two coverage sacks during the first half. Perhaps getting rid of the ball more quickly is a right of passage for a first-year starter. But, that said, Kanoff was not given the time that Brown quarterback Marcus Fuller had on a pretty, clutch third-and-ten 15-yard touchdown pass to Brian Strachan at the back of the end zone to put the Bears up 31-24. That was one more of the plays that in the end Brown made that Princeton didn’t. And the difference on that one – just over Matt Arends well-timed leap – might have been an inch.
The losses by a little hurt the most. With the Tigers closer to full strength, this might not have been a contest but they still had enough out there to get the job done and simply didn’t.
“We fought, I’m proud of the effort,” said Coach Bob Surace. “But effort doesn’t overcome everything.
“We have been the least-penalized team (in the Ivies) going back six years. Ninety-four yards in penalties; that’s not the discipline we can play with when we play good teams. We have to clean that up.”
While they are doing that, the Tigers have to hope that Brown (3-2, 1-1), which already has a loss to Harvard, is indeed, good enough to knock off other contenders. And of course, the Tigers have to get some injured people back to remain a factor in the race to its wire.
Considering the caliber of the players Princeton is missing, this was a valiant try in a lot of ways. But in others, it was just a giveaway. The Tigers took 11 penalties, no way for a crippled team to keep itself in the game.
Henry Schlossberg appeared to have been blocked into Fuller on one of two roughing the-passer calls and the Princeton sideline was apoplectic about a third-down interference call on John Hill that kept a Bear drive alive. But a scant 125 Tiger yards rushing – 63 of that was by John Lovett and 23 by Kanoff on one touchdown-enabling scramble to the two yard line — had a lot to do with Princeton being only three-for-10 on third-down conversions. The Tigers came into the game with a 56 per cent success rate.
Kanoff (24-for-44-2 INT, 1 TD) had his moments, including a sideline beauty to the returning Dre Nelson for 63 yards on opening drive of the third quarter (the Tigers settled for Bieck field goal). And there were two more clutch throw to Carpenter, the one for a touchdown and one for a 2-point conversion to make up for a blocked second quarter PAT.
But while Kanoff worked without much of a running game that would have made the yardages more convertible, Brown’s short passing game was more effective for much of the day, And that came back to the Tiger pass rush that, of course, misses Holuba terribly.
Arends had a big sack on a blitz, which enabled the Tigers to get the ball back for one of their two ill-fated go-ahead attempts. But whatever rush the Tigers have left without their key D-line components was effectively neutralized by Brown’s short drops and quick slants and outs.
“We wanted to get our hands on a few more deflections, something we worked hard on this week,” said Surace. ”Actually we did that a couple times and they still caught a few.”
Lovett had eight catches, a number that reflected the absence of Seth DeValve and the limited use of James Frusciante in his first game back since the opener. Considering everything, 31 one points on the board were pretty good. It just was not good enough.