IVY LEAGUE CHAMPIONS! Football Team Rallies For 38-21 Win, 11th Ivy Title; Lovett Sets Rush TD Mark
They believed, when nobody else did.
They believed when the media picked them to finish fifth. They believed after they lost a heartbreaking overtime game. They believed when they trailed at halftime against a team that nobody in that locker room had ever beaten.
They believed, and then they conquered. And now, they are the 2016 Ivy League champions.
The Princeton football team rallied from an early 14-7 hole by scoring 31 unanswered points to defeat Dartmouth 38-21 in front of a thrilled 8,320 on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. The win clinches a share of the 2016 Ivy title with Penn, a 42-20 winner at Cornell. Harvard, the outright Ivy leader only eight days earlier, fell out of title contention with a 21-14 home loss to Yale.
Princeton, which defeated Penn 28-0 on Powers Field only two weeks earlier, faced its greatest challenge of the last four weeks against a Dartmouth team determined to play the spoiler. The Big Green held leads of 7-0 and 14-7, and it carried a 14-10 lead into the break, but the Tigers summoned one more brilliant half of football to ensure their championship finish. Following a defensive stand to open the half, Princeton executed a 15-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a record-setting touchdown by junior John Lovett. After scoring from one yard out in the first half, he pushed up the right side of the line for a second one-yard score to open a 17-14 lead.
The touchdown also gave Lovett the Princeton single-season touchdown rushing record (20), which had been held by Princeton all-time great Keith Elias ’94 for 23 seasons.
The defense held again on two drives, and the Tigers put the game away with their most thrilling 78 seconds of the season. Senior Chad Kanoff connected with Jesper Horsted — who now has 2016 Ivy League titles for both the Princeton football and baseball teams — on a 14-yard touchdown to open a 24-14 lead. Kanoff and Horsted had connected on three long pass plays over the last three weeks that ended inside the opponent’s 5-yard-line, and each time Lovett ended the drive with a score.
Not this time. Horsted found the inside of the right pylon for the score, and seconds later, linebacker Mark Fossati ripped the ball away from kick returner Rashaad Cooper. Freshman running back Ryan Quigley, who had a 50-yard touchdown rush against Cornell, beat a pair of Dartmouth players to the ball and gave Princeton possession at the 9 yard line. Three plays later, Lovett rolled right, stopped and threw across his body to two-time All-Ivy League tight end Scott Carpenter, who caught an unguarded touchdown to open a 31-14 lead.
In case that wasn’t safe enough, running back and Ivy League sprint champion Charlie Volker exploded for a 39-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 38-14 and ignite a crowd celebration that waited patiently for the official championship coronation. After dousing FCS Head Coach of the Year finalist Bob Surace with a gatorade shower before the final whistle, players and coaches celebrated the program’s second Ivy title in four years on the middle of a joyous Powers Field.
Volker — another two-time Ivy League champion in 2016 (men’s indoor track & field) rushed 18 times for 111 yards and a touchdown, while Lovett added two rushing and one passing touchdown. Kanoff completed 14 of 24 passes for 200 yards and moved to fifth on the all-time Princeton passing list with 4,031 yards. Senior Trevor Osborne caught five passes for 72 yards, while Isaiah Barnes added three for 60.
Tri-captain Dorian Williams, who played more than any member of the senior class on the 2013 Ivy League championship team, wrapped up his brilliant career with nine tackles. Classmate Rohan Hylton added nine of his own, and he added an interception in the end zone while Dartmouth attempted a late rally. Team tackle leader Luke Catarius had eight, while both Kurt Holuba and Brannon Jones had a sack.
The Princeton Class of 2017 ends its four-year run with 26 wins, more than any Princeton class since the 1960s (freshmen were not varsity eligible until 1994), and it also became the first class since that time period to play on two Ivy championship teams.
They entered as champions. They will exit the same way.