Football Can't Overcome Princeton, Falls 22-17

PRINCETON, N.J. - Despite three school records, the University of Pennsylvania football team came up just short in the final minutes of a classic rivalry game with Princeton on Saturday as the Tigers came up with enough plays to pull out a 22-17 win.

Sophomore quarterback Alek Torgersen tied his school record with 40 completions on a school-record 61 pass attempts, while senior wideout Spencer Kulcsar caught 16 of those to break the program record he tied earlier this season.

Penn, which lost in regulation at Princeton Stadium for the first time, got into the red zone on its first two possessions but was unable to score. On the game's opening possession, a third-down sack forced a long field goal which curled wide left. Princeton then hit a 46-yard field goal to cap its first drive, taking a 3-0 lead.

Penn's second drive -- which was highlighted by a 40-yard trick pass play from senior wideout Conner Scott to senior Eric Fiore -- ended abruptly when a fumbled snap at the 2-yard line was returned by Princeton to the Penn 9-yard line. The Quakers defense forced another field goal, though, and Penn trailed 6-0 after the first six minutes. The Tigers added another score on their next possession, and after a failed two-point try they led 12-0 less than 10 minutes into the game.

At that point the Quakers responded with an impressive 14-play, 65-yard drive. Sophomore quarterback Alek Torgersen connected with freshman Justin Watsonfor 11 yards to convert on fourth down inside the Princeton 30, and five plays later Torgersen found Scott for a five-yard touchdown. It was Scott's 11th touchdown catch of his career (tied for eighth-most in school history), and brought Penn within 12-7 just before the end of the first quarter.

Both defenses held serve until Princeton (5-3, 4-1 Ivy) punched it in from a yard out to cap a 13-play drive with 6:52 left in the half. The Tigers nearly extended the 19-7 advantage, but Kenny Thomas tipped a deep pass inside the 10-yard line that was intercepted by junior safety Ian Dobbins.

The Quakers (1-7, 1-4 Ivy) then marched 55 yards in 12 plays, a drive that included a one-yard Torgersen completion to himself after it was tipped at the line. Junior kickerJimmy Gammill drilled home a 44-yard field goal just before the half to close the deficit to 19-10 at intermission.

On the first play of the second half, senior captain Evan Jackson forced a fumble that senior Dan Wilk engulfed at the Princeton 33-yard line. Four plays later, Watson made a fantastic one-handed touchdown catch. The 22-yard score pulled Penn within 19-17 at the 12:54 mark of the third quarter.

The Tigers -- who were given five downs at one point in the fourth quarter -- finally broke through for their first score of the second half with 10:15 to play. It was only a field goal, though, and Penn was still alive, trailing 22-17.

The Quakers then drove to the Princeton 22-yard line on a drive as Torgersen set single-game school records for completions and attempts, but on fourth down Kulcsar was stopped just short of the marker on his school-record 16th reception of the day.

That gave Princeton one final possession and more than five minutes to play, and whenever the Tigers needed a first down they got it -- right up until the point they could take a knee and run out the clock.

Torgersen finished 40-of-61 with two touchdowns. He became the 10th passer in program history to surpass 2,000 yards in a season as he racked up 349 pass yards on Saturday -- 12th-most in a game in school history and one yard short of his career high. He matched the single-game completion record he set on Oct. 4 at Dartmouth and eclipsed the previous single-game attempts record set by Bryan Walker with 60 passes on two occasions in 2007.

Kulcsar's 16 catches passed the previous program-best of 15 set by Rob Milanese in 2002 and matched by Kulcsar on Oct. 4 at Dartmouth. His 30 catches in the last two games is also a school record, while his 117 receiving yards marked the fourth time this season he went over the 100-yard plateau.

Watson, who has multiple catches in every game of his career, finished with a career-best six catches and 76 yards for the second straight game. Scott added a total of seven receptions for 42 yards to become just the fifth player in school history to surpass 1,700 career receiving yards.

Defensively, junior Nolan Biegel led the Quakers with a career-high 13 tackles, while senior Evan Jackson added 10, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Freshman Tayler Hendrickson and junior Tyler Drake each contributed a career-best eight tackles and a sack, while freshman Brandon Mills and junior Ian Dobbins each tacked on a career-best six tackles.

Penn will host Harvard next Saturday in Head Coach Al Bagnoli’s final game at Franklin Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

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Download: 8-Princeton box.pdf