Stetson quarterback Brady Meitz found Nazeviah Burris for a 49-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter, putting the Hatters up by a touchdown against Princeton once again. To that point, Meitz had led his offense to 178 yards of offense and a pair of touchdowns.
Would this be a stunning reversal of the 2021 meeting between the teams? Not quite.
Blake Stenstrom completed 23 of 33 passes for 256 yards in his first start and Andrei Iosivas and Ryan Butler scored twice each as Princeton scored the final 32 points of the day to roll past Stetson 39-14 on a rainy day in Florida. After putting up those 178 yards on its first three drives, Stetson managed just 65 more the rest of the way, and in fact Princeton’s defense would outscore the Hatter offense 2-0 over the final 43 minutes.
Stenstrom became the fifth different opening-day starting quarterback for the Tigers in five seasons, after Chad Kanoff (2017), John Lovett (2018), Kevin Davidson (2019) and Cole Smith (2021). It was Smith who quarterbacked the Tigers to a 63-0 win over Stetson a year ago in Princeton in the first meeting ever between the teams.
Stetson was picked to finish ninth in the Pioneer League preseason poll, but the presence of first-year starter Meitz brought a dynamic element to the Hatter offense, throwing for nearly 800 yards in two wins to start the year. His 60-yard pass to Michael Carley with 6:15 to go in the first quarter got the home team off to a 7-0 lead, and, after Princeton tied it once with a 12-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Butler’s first TD on a one-yard run, the Meitz-to-Burris connection made it a 14-7 game with 13:17 to go in the second quarter.
That’s where the Princeton drew the line. From there, Stetson’s drive chart went like this: punt, safety (when Carter Christopher led the push into the backfield one play after Meitz barely escaped the end zone), punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, interception, sack/fumble (courtesy of Michael Azevedo).
Princeton again immediately answered the second Stetson touchdown, as Stenstrom finished a 10-play, 71-yard drive with a five-yard TD pass to Iosivas. Princeton took the lead for good with the second TD pass from Stenstrom to Iosivas, and, after a missed extra point, it became a 22-14 game at halftime with the Christopher safety.
The second half was all Tigers, as Jon Volker finished one drive with a one-yard run, Jeffrey Sexton drilled a 46-yard field goal and Butler ran 25 yards for his second score. Butler, who finished with a team-best 67 rushing yards, ran for more than 3,000 during his career at Bergen Catholic High School.
Iosivas (84 yards) and JoJo Hawkins (70 yards) caught six passes each. Ken Lim had a fourth-quarter interception, and Joseph Bonczek had a team-best six tackles.
Princeton’s home opener will be Saturday, Sept. 24, against Lehigh.
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