In front of a huge orange-clad crowd, Princeton ground out a 21-14 Homecoming victory over Buffalo on Friday, Sept. 21, raising the season record to 3-2.
A deep kickoff by the versatile Billy McClay, mixed with strong coverage, pinned the Bison on the opening possession. Wyatt Ross followed with a sack to further push the visitors back, and the eventual punt into the stiff south wind set up Princeton at the Buffalo 36 for its first series.
A.J. Wesloh carried twice to reach the 17, then Cole Warren bulled his way for a 1st-and-goal at the 5. QB Sam Archer snuck in the final six inches needed for the touchdown and a quick 7-0 Tiger lead.
Another good kick from McClay was muffed, again pinning the Bison in deep. Warren and Cam Paulson wrapped up Bison back Joseph Johnson on two carries to force another punt, with the Tigers getting the ball at the Bison 41.
This golden opportunity was not cashed in, however, as two incompletions forced Princeton to punt, and the touchback gave Buffalo a breather at the 20. The Bison mixed a reception from Zach Dahl and runs from Johnson and Jon Senger to work into Tiger territory. Just into the second quarter, the Bison took advantage of the wind with a 19-yard touchdown reception by Levi Bean to knot the score at 7-7.
Punts were traded over the next several minutes, but Princeton’s Wyatt Dahlheimer broke the pattern when he sprinted 29 yards on a sweep left, reaching Buffalo ground. Archer then hit McClay perfectly on a slant, and he sprinted away from the secondary on a 47-yard scoring play for a 14-7 Princeton edge.
The Bison then clicked on two big passing plays, but their field goal attempt with 8 seconds left in the half was no good.
Buffalo regained momentum on its first possession of the second half, rolling 64 yards on eight plays to tie it at 14-14, scoring on an 11-yard reception by Senger.
Again the teams traded punts, then Princeton began working on one of its classic drives which began on their 37. Racking up five first downs over 15 plays, the Tigers chewed 9:22 off the clock and owned the 21-14 advantage when Warren followed his blockers on 1-yard scoring plunge.
Buffalo answered with a drive into Princeton’s territory, but linebacker Greg Whiteoak picked off a pass at the 32 with 2:34 to play to quell that threat. The Bison’s final chance ended with a fumble, and the Tigers ate up the final 1:41 to send the Homecoming crowd home in good spirits.
“Cole Warren at linebacker played an outstanding football game for us, and Greg Whiteoak’s interception was a game-changer, too,” described Tiger Coach Roy Hanenburg. “Joey Stenslie and the D-line provided good pressure on their quarterback all night. Cam Paulson was great on our special teams all night, too. The team did not have as many explosive plays against Buffalo, but we played solid football with only two penalties and no turnovers in the game.”
Next up: The Tigers travel to St. Francis who is coming off consecutive wins over Cambridge-Isanti and Duluth Denfeld. Senior back Max Gust is averaging 101 yards/game and has scored 9 TDs for the Saints.
Princeton 21, Buffalo 14
First Downs 13 17
Rushing 40/123 32/139
Passing 9/4/0 22/13/1
Passing Yds 91 150
Total Yds 214 289
Tiger Individual Stats
Rushing: Wesloh 11/55; Warren 10/31, TD; Dahlheimer 4/32; Archer 11/25; Kitzman 3/4; McClay 1/2; Archer 11/-1, TD. Passing: Archer 8/3/0- 62 yds, TD; McClay 1/1/0- 29 yds. Receiving: McClay 2/58, TD; Paulson 1/29; Green 1/4.
Mississippi 8 Football: Red Div.: Chisago Lakes 3-0, 4-1; Monticello 3-0, 4-1; Princeton 2-2, 3-2; North Branch 1-1, 2-3; Big Lake 0-3, 0-5; Duluth Denfeld 0-3, 0-5. Blue Div.: Rogers 4-0, 5-0; St. Michael-Alb. 2-0, 5-0; St. Francis 2-2, 3-2; Cambridge-Isanti 1-2, 3-2; Buffalo 0-2, 1-4; Duluth East 0-3, 0-5.