Gutsy Football Comeback Appeared Destined For Last-Second Win, But Waved Off In 38-35 Loss
It was a moment of euphoria for a Princeton team that had been ravaged by injuries over a four-week span, and yet temporarily seemed to regain control of their own destiny in the 2017 Ivy League race.
Chad Kanoff lofted a perfect pass into the deep right corner of the end zone, where Stephen Carlson appeared to pull in his 11th catch of the game, a would-be 13-yard touchdown pass that would have given Princeton a 41-38 lead with only five seconds remaining. One official signaled touchdown, setting off the kind of celebration that comes after rallying from a 10-point road deficit in the final quarter for your gutsiest road win in years.
A second official came from under the goalposts, however, and overruled the call.
Seconds later, Princeton missed a game-tying 31-yard field goal attempt, and Penn celebrated a 38-35 Homecoming win over Princeton at Franklin Field. It was the Tigers’ first Ivy League road loss since the 2015 season, although that fact barely tells the story of the Tigers’ second-half comeback effort.
Princeton trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half to a Penn team that ran the ball efficiently all game. A 17-yard touchdown pass from Kanoff to Jesper Horsted cut the deficit to 24-14 with 4:32 left in the third quarter, and seconds later, Khalil Bryant recovered a fumble by Penn quarterback Will Fischer-Colbrie. That set up a second Kanoff-to-Horsted touchdown in a span of 75 seconds that got Princeton to within three points late in the third quarter.
Penn got it back to 10, but Kanoff engineered an 11-play, 79-yard touchdown that drive that ended with a one-yard score by Charlie Volker to get back within three points. Nico Bayless, one of several reserves who played inspired football during the second half, recovered another fumble on the ensuing drive, and Princeton was able to regain the lead for the first time since the opening drive when Volker ran a sweep for a three-yard touchdown.
Penn got the ball back with just over four minutes and drove 80 yards in nine plays, the final being a 15-yard touchdown pass from Fischer-Colbrie to Watson to open a 38-35 Penn lead with 1:12 remaining.
Kanoff, who completed 32 of 45 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns, engineered one more drive to put Princeton in position to win the game. He completed five of his first six passes, including a 22-yard strike to Jordan Argue and a 19-yard pass to Tiger Bech, and added a five-yard pass to Argue to get to the 13. Then came the pass ruled incomplete, followed by a 31-yard missed field goal, and Princeton was left with a heartbreaking 38-35 loss.
Though extremely disappointed afterwards, head coach Bob Surace praised the fight his team showed following the game.
The Tigers return to Powers Field next Saturday for a 1 pm matchup against Yale, which is alone in first place in the Ivy League with a 4-1 record. The game will be televised live on Eleven Sports and streamed on the Ivy League Network.