Tigers Are Magnificent in 53-0 Rout of Brown
BY JAY GREENBERG
PROVIDENCE –When coaches dream, it looks like how Princeton 53, Brown 0 appeared to Bob Surace and his staff on Saturday.
“I have never been part of a game where it’s perfect,” said Surace. “But all around, it was a high standard against what I still think is a good team.”
When receivers dream, they are hanging a full yard in the air and taking a flawless throw away from a defender, like Tiger Bech did to Bear cornerback Brendan Pyne with an 16-yard touchdown pass from Chad Kanoff in the second quarter.
“Perfect spot,” said Bech. “It grazed off the top of his head and I grabbed it.”
It was probably beyond the fantasies of Charlie Volker when, on a first-and-ten from the Princeton four-yard line in the second quarter, he would see a hole so huge in the Brown middle, with safeties in man coverage on the outside, and just one linebacker to catch flat-footed for 96 yards, the farthest run from scrimmage in 148 years of Princeton football.
That is almost as long as it gets, both in yards and years. And still, yesterday’s performance was so complete that these Princeton players should remember it for at least all their days, none of which, sorry to say, may ever be as good again as this one until they die.
And we write that in full anticipation of Volker’s run remaining unerased in the record book for even longer than was the name of Homer A. Smith, who busted one for 93 yards against Yale in 1952.
We are sorry to report that Volker’s fourth–and most spectacular–touchdown Saturday in a silent and sullen Brown Stadium still left him seven shy of the Princeton record set by Phillip King, who had 11 in a game in 1889.
“Maybe next week,” laughed Volker.
Phillip King probably can rest in peace on that one, unlike the Tigers, who never took a down off in running their record to 4-1 and evening their Ivy mark at 1-1. Not matter how liberally they were substituted, these guys played to the buzzer like they wanted to do better than they had on the last play. And thanks to relentless defense and drives of 5:56 and 6:20 to finish the game, they wound up with a rare and hugely satisfying shutout.
“The kids are very well-focused,” said Defensive Coordinator Steve Verbit. “They treated it like a business trip, played hard from first snap until the last play, which, if you aspire to be the best in your conference you have to do every week.
“One snap at a time, they did it for 60 minutes. You do that, the wins, even shutouts, will take care of themselves.”
How good was it?
Volker’s 163 yards-his third touchdown was a thing of beauty, too, with a sharp cutback and a drag of the defender for the final two yards-were 64 more than Brown managed on the ground all day. And freshman Collin Eaddy added 76 more, plus a touchdown, as the Tigers spent the second half running clock and trying not to humiliate Brown any further. Kanoff completed three quarters of his passes (21-for-27, 2 TDs 0 INT) again, as he threw that sublime touchdown toss to Bech, and hit Jesper Horsted for another one in the back corner that was almost as good.
Princeton had the ball for just short of 35 minutes, impressive enough, even if seemed like 55 minutes. The Tigers’ 55-7 win at Cornell in 2016 was a masterpiece and this was even better because never, from the time Austin Carbone fell on a fumbled opening kickoff until backup linebacker Eddie Rudinski sacked quarterback LJ Harriott when the Bears had the temerity to get the ball to midfield midway in the fourth quarter, did Princeton take its foot off the pedal.
In the second series of the third quarter, with Brown starting at its own two, Kurt Holuba had a series that was a tour de force for the All-American-to-be. He followed a stop after a three-yard gain on first down with a near safety on a sack on second down, and finished up with a third-down bat down that was a near interception for a touchdown.
Still it is hard to argue Holuba was any more of a defensive star than was Thomas Johnson, who had a rocking pass breakup over the middle among his four tackles or John Orr, who had five stops, two of them on third down as Brown completed only five-of-15 of those situations. Good luck to the coaches Sunday morning when they search the film for teaching moments. Alex Deters has just been called for holding the previous play before Volker ran behind the backup center for 96 yards of glory.
“In my speech to them last night, I said that in every game we have had 10 minutes of brilliance, where I look at this team and am amazed at how well we execute,” said Surace. “Then there is a good 40 minutes of consistent play and then we have 10 minutes where I look like the worst coach in the world.
“You hope as the year goes on we can get more consistent. And also stay healthy.”
Somebody is sticking pins in dolls of Princeton’s defensive linemen, putting out five players so far whom the Tigers were counting on to play in the two-deep. One fears that will catch up to this team at one point, but instead the Tigers are still catching up to passers at a ferocious rate. The four sacks today didn’t reflect the amount of pressure felt by three Brown quarterbacks. Twice they were running for their lives as they slipped on the wet turf.
On a day that began in a drizzle and finished in a mist, a slippery ball caught up to Kanoff a few times, too. Then, too, a throwback to Kanoff from Kevin Davidson blew up the Princeton opportunity after the fumble on the opening kickoff, Tavish Rice missed an extra point, Stephen Carlson had a holding penalty that nullified a big gain inside the Brown 10, and there were a couple times in the second half that Brown reserve quarterback Jeff Jonke got outside containment for big gains.
And as long as we are getting picky, the halftime pizza was late to the press box, too. But otherwise this was as good as it gets.
The Tigers only had to punt once–a quick kick by Kanoff that took a sideways bounce and went out of bounds at the two.
“That’s when you know everything is going well,” said Kanoff.
Six first half penalties set the tone for Brown, but the Bears wouldn’t dare argue that they gave this game away. The Tigers did that in the contest here two years ago, 38-31; their most mistake-prone performance in a winnable game of the Surace era culminating in Kanoff interceptions on the final two drives. .
There weren’t many of these Tigers who played appreciably in that game, but arguably their most important player came here with a memory even longer than was that Volker dash yesterday.
“Better than the one here two years ago,” Kanoff said without prompting. “Oh sure, I remembered it.”
Columbia slipped away from Penn in overtime today to remain unbeaten in the league with Dartmouth. But with five big games to go, the whole race remains in front of the Tigers to build to another memorable finish.
However it turns out, they will still recall this performance at Brown of their dreams.
“When everything comes together like this,” said Volker. “It’s an incredible feeling.”