Columbia entered its 2018 Ivy League opener Friday night with the nation’s second-ranked rushing defense, a unit that allowed only 70 rushing yards through the first two weeks combined.
Princeton brought the fifth-ranked rushing offense in the nation, and a quarterback who hadn’t even shown his full arsenal of run plays through the first two weeks, and took full control of its third-straight blowout win to end a dominant September.
The Tigers rushed for 360 yards and scored 25 points over a 6:32 stretch midway through the game, and the defense continued its stretch of second-half shutouts, to post a 45-10 victory over the Lions in a battle of unbeatens on national TV.
An offensive unit that has put up staggering numbers through the first two weeks did so again, and once again it was reigning Ivy League Player of the Week John Lovett who led the show. Lovett rushed for a career-high 174 yards on 17 carries (10.2 average), and he added a pair of touchdowns on the ground to go along with two TD passes to Stephen Carlson. Sophomore running back Collin Eaddy had the best game of his young career, rushing six times for 102 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. Lovett and Eaddy became the first Princeton tandem to post 100-yard performances in the same game since Judd Garrett and Chris Hallihan did so against Cornell on Nov. 18, 1989.
That offensive line was led by senior center Bob Surace, the ninth-year head coach who oversaw Princeton’s third straight victory by at least 35 points this season.
Those victories don’t come without strong defensive performances, and the Tigers continued their strong play in New York City. TJ Floyd became the first Princeton player to record two interceptions in a game since Anthony Gaffney did so four years earlier at Wien Stadium, and Princeton added a trio of sacks to keep Columbia from making any noise during the second half. Mike Wagner had two sacks in the win, including one that forced a fumble in Princeton territory. It was recovered by Ben Ellis, who led Princeton with seven tackles in the win. Eight players had at least four tackles for Princeton, which set the tone immediately after a special teams miscue by the Tigers.
Columbia would get within 13-10 in the second quarter and had the ball with a chance to take the lead, but Princeton took control from there. A third-and-short stop set up an 80-yard scoring drive for the Tigers, which ended with a Lovett dive from inside the 1. After the first of two Floyd interceptions, Lovett rolled right to force the defense to commit, and then hit Carlson along the sideline for a score. Nicolas Ramos hit a 19-yard field goal on the final play of the half, and Eaddy sprinted through a hole and went untouched from 66 yards out to grab full control of the win.