First the Princeton defense took Lehigh’s chance to win the game away in the third quarter. Then Andrei Iosivas took every one’s breath away in the fourth quarter.
Princeton defeated Lehigh 29-17 in its home opener on Powers Field Saturday afternoon, giving the Tigers their second straight win to start the season. The Tigers open their Ivy schedule this coming Saturday at Columbia.
The Princeton-Lehigh game was tied 10-10 at halftime before the Tiger defense put on a third quarter clinic, forcing turnovers on three of Lehigh’s four possessions. The one possession of the quarter that didn’t end in a turnover ended instead in a blocked punt.
By the time the fourth quarter started and Princeton had turned those short fields into a John Volker touchdown run and two Jeffrey Seton field goals, it was a 23-10 Princeton lead heading into the fourth quarter.
That’s when Iosivas did what he can do and not too many others anywhere can. The third quarter ended with the kickoff after Sexton’s second field goal, and Lehigh started the fourth quarter by driving to Princeton’s 28 before turning it over on downs.
Princeton then gained seven yards on two plays, making it third and three on the Tiger 35. Quarterback Blake Stenstrom connected with a cutting Iosivas, who caught the ball on the 38, turned the far corner and then outran the Lehigh defense, finishing about 15 yards ahead of anyone in a white jersey who chased him. It was a stunning play by the senior wide receiver, whose 65-yard reception was part of a seven-reception, 115-yard day.
Iosivas TD made it 29-10 Tigers. The final Lehigh touchdown came on a 52-yard interception return by defensive lineman Dean Colton, who picked off a Stenstrom screen. Otherwise, Stenstrom had a strong day in his second start, going 23 for 34 for 291 yards.
Princeton and Lehigh both scored touchdowns on their first possession of the game, making it 7-7 early. For the rest of the first half, each team managed only one more field goal, making it 10-10 at the break.
The first Lehigh possession of the third quarter ended with a Nic Sanker interception, giving Princeton the ball on the Mountain Hawk 33. Stenstrom found JoJo Hawkins for 23 yards on the first play, and Volker finished it with a two-yard TD run. The next possession had the blocked punt by Connor Hulstein, setting the Tigers up on the Lehigh 23 and leading to a Sexton 38-yard field goal.
Not done yet, the Tiger defense got another big play, this time an interception from freshman Glenie Cross III, who had it, bobbled it, almost dropped it and finally corralled it on the Lehigh 40. Princeton didn’t score on that drive, but it did on a 26-yard field goal by Sexton on the next one, which began after Liam Johnson’s forced fumble was recovered by James Stagg on the Lehigh 43.
Princeton outgained Lehigh by the length of a football field (353-253). Johnson had a team-best 10 tackles to go with his forced fumble, and C.J. Wall had six tackles. Dylan Classi joined Iosivas with more than 100 receiving yards, catching seven passes for 110.