Something had to give this past weekend in Ancient Eight football action, as the four teams with perfect records in league play squared off against each other. Princeton upset preseason favorite Harvard to claim a share of first place, while Yale held off Penn in overtime to stay perfect in the conference. In the bottom half of the league, Dartmouth and Brown earned their first Ivy victories of 2006 while Columbia and Cornell fell a little further behind.
Princeton 31, Harvard 28
Last minute heroics helped the Tigers (6-0, 3-0 Ivy) recover from early mistakes to hand the Crimson (5-1, 2-1) its first defeat of 2006 in Princeton, N.J., Saturday afternoon with a 31-28 win. With 4:37 left in the game, Princeton quarterback Jeff Terrell found Brendan Circle for a 20-yard touchdown pass to seal the win. Terrell earned Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors for his work on the afternoon, which included throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns, as well as score on the ground to end a nine-game winning streak by Harvard. Defensive back Kevin Kelleher took care of Harvard the rest of the way, grabbing two interceptions in the final 3:15 of the game. Colin McDonough shone for the Tigers after a shaky start, unleashing four punts of more than 60 yards despite kicking a 14-yarder and having another punt blocked early in the game to earn Special Teams Player of the Week accolades. Circle finished with six receptions for 114 yards. Running back Clifton Dawson continued to be an effective scoring threat for the Crimson, scoring three touchdowns for the fifth time in six games despite being held to 64 yards on 21 carries. Defensive tackle Michael Berg also had a strong game for Harvard, notching six tackles and blocking McDonough’s punt in the first quarter to set the table for the Crimson’s first scoring drive of the afternoon.
Yale 17, Penn 14
Alan Kimball’s 35-yard field goal split the uprights in the first overtime in New Haven, Conn., Saturday afternoon to give the Bulldogs (5-1, 3-0) a 17-14 win — their first against the Quakers (4-2, 2-1) in five games. It was a closely fought battle down to the wire, as Derek Zoch had just bounced a 37-yard field goal attempt off the right upright in Penn’s possession in extra time. Bulldogs Penn’s Joe Sandberg rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown, while Yale’s Mike McLeod countered that effort with 122 yards and a touchdown of his own on the ground. It was the fifth straight game that McLeod had rushed for more than 100 yards, and the third consecutive 100-plus effort by Sandberg. Sandberg’s touchdown gave Penn a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter, while McLeod’s score tied the game up with just over five minutes left in the half — a stalemate that would stand until Kimball’s kick ended the day. Cornerback Greg Ambrogi also played a key part in the Quakers’ effort, as he ended the day with an interception, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery, and four tackles in the loss.
Dartmouth 20, Columbia 7
While Harvard ended a nine-game winning streak with its loss to Princeton this weekend, the Green (1-5, 1-2) won its first game in 10 attempts with a 20-7 decision against Columbia (3-3, 0-3) in New York City on Saturday afternoon. Mike Fritz led Dartmouth with a total of 253 yards of offensive productions, while Hudson Smythe scored two touchdowns for the visitors. Fritz was equally dangerous with his hands and feet, complete 14-of-21 passes for 133 yards and carrying the pigskin 14 times for 120 yards — making him the first Green runner to break the century mark in yards gained since the 2004 season. Smythe had 20 touches for 48 yards to help secure the win. Despite the loss, the performance of freshman Andy Shalbrack gave the Lions hope for the future. Shalbrack earned Rookie of the Week honors after his third interception of the season allowed the home team to get its foot in the door and earn its only touchdown of the game. Out of all the football teams in Division I football, no freshman has more interceptions that Shalbrack.