Princeton vs. Columbia: Tigers Finish September Strong with Ivy Win over Lions

Mark BatorAnalyst IISeptember 30, 2012

Nov 20, 2010; Princeton, NJ, USA;  Princeton Tigers quarterback Connor Kelley (18) hands off to running back Matt Zimmerman (25) but  Dartmouth Big Green defensive end Buddy Benaderet (92) is waiting to stop him for no gain during the first half. Dartmouth Big Green defeats Princeton Tigers 31-0. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

After playing competitive games against Lehigh and Georgetown that resulted in losses, the Princeton Tigers may have been wondering what they needed to do to secure a win. As it turns out, all they needed to do in their Ivy League opener against the Columbia Lions was to return the opening kickoff.

When Anthony Gaffney took the opening kick on his own 6-yard line, the fate of the Lions was sealed as the freshman ran 94 yards to take the Tigers to an early 7-0 lead.

As it turns out, it would be all the Tigers needed.

Columbia would muster but two field goals against a Princeton defense, which held the Lions to just 12 first downs in the game and 39 yards rushing. The Tigers' defense came through when it needed to, holding Columbia to just 3-of-17 on third down conversions and 0-for-2 on fourth down. Princeton also intercepted quarterback Sean Brackett twice.

Despite having two turnovers of their own, Princeton rolled up 335 total yards on offense, including DiAndre Atwater's 51 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Princeton may have found the spark it had sorely been missing this season as backup quarterback Quinn Epperly (7-of-10 for 101 yards and 1 TD) saw extensive playing time. In addition to his standout day passing, Epperly also ran six times for 42 yards. Connor Michelsen, who has been the starter in all three games this season, was 11-for-19 on the day with an interception.

Princeton's defense held the opposition without a touchdown in the game, which no Tiger team has done since 2006. With a final score of 33-6, the 27-point margin of victory was the largest for the Tigers since 2005, when they defeated Dartmouth 30-0.

Princeton next travels to Lafayette for a showdown with the 3-0 Leopards on October 6.