Kanoff’s career day powers Princeton past San Diego
PRINCETON » Any questions about Princeton’s offense with the reigning Bushnell Cup recipient standing on the sideline injured were answered emphatically by quarterback Chad Kanoff.
The senior threw for a career-best 352 yards and three touchdowns, all to Stephen Carlson, and the Tigers opened the season with a 27-17 victory over San Diego on Saturday afternoon.
“I think all the receivers knew it coming into camp that this was going to be a year that Chad would really shine,” said Carlson, who caught six passes for 94 yards. “He was putting in work all summer and then during camp just really being a leader and commanding the offense. It’s on another level than he was before.”
A rare fifth-year senior in the Ivy League, Kanoff jumped from fifth to third on the program’s all-time passing chart, moving ahead of Jeffrey Terrell and Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. He upped his career total to 4,338 yards and trails only Matthew Verbit (5,202) and Douglas Butler (7,291).
“You trust your eyes,” head coach Bob Surace said. “Every year he has made a big jump in his development. To do this as a fifth-year senior, it’s like his confidence … he’s got the whole offense down. When somebody is a little misaligned, he gets them right, and he’s putting the ball in these tight zones to big receivers.”
Kanoff only tossed six touchdowns all of last season, but that number is deceiving because he rarely handled the ball in the red zone. John Lovett, who watched from the sideline with his left arm in a sling and is out indefinitely following offseason surgery, racked up 31 TDs (20 rushing, 1 receiving, 10 passing).
Kanoff, though, showed the ball is safe in his hands, especially when he sealed the victory with a 12-play, 66-yard touchdown drive that chewed up 5:28.
The Tigers converted three 3rd-and-longs on the drive as Kanoff hit his favorite target Jesper Horstead (12 for 108), who made an incredible catch between two defenders on a 3rdand-7, and later drove the ball into Carlson on consecutive 3rdand-16 plays.
“Some of those catches were ridiculous,” said Kanoff, who completed 32 of his 43 attempts and posted a 166.2 QB rating. “We had really good protections the whole way through. I think the one I threw to Jesper, I threw with my eyes closed and he caught it. I don’t know if that was my best decision, but he made me right.”
Kanoff capped the drive utilizing a nifty ball fake and threeyard scoring toss to Carlson with 1:36 remaining. Carlson became the first Tiger with three receiving touchdowns in a game since Michael Lerch caught four on Oct. 12, 1991 against Brown.
“Today I was part of the answer,” Kanoff said. “If you play quarterback, you want the ball in your hands on every play.”
Princeton (1-0) turned a pair of turnovers into a 14-0 lead as Kanoff connected with Carlson on scoring passes of nine and 14 yards.
“I was envisioning a couple plays,” Carlson said. “Chad really put the ball on the money today and threw me open.”
The Toreros (1-2) chewed up yards in the first half, out-gaining the Tigers, 235-161, and cut the deficit to 14-10 at the half.
Anthony Lawrence, who quarterbacked San Diego to a 10-2 record and Pioneer League title a year ago, competed 27of-42 passes for 293 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Tavish Rice kicked a pair of third-quarter field goals to give Princeton a 20-10 lead, but Surace left the door open for the visitors when he elected to go for it on 4th down from the San Diego five instead of taking the sure three points.
The Toreros stuffed the play and Lawrence led them on a 9-play, 95-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown when they reached into their bag of tricks.
Lawrence tossed a backward pass to Christian Brook, who then hit a wide-open Justin Priest (11 for 142) for a 23-yard TD when the Tigers defense fell asleep.
“Going up 13 doesn’t give you enough value,” Surace explained. “If they got the score, they’re going to go for it on 4th down because they’re not going to kick a field goal. So going by 10, you end up tied instead of down one.”
In the end, it didn’t matter. “I don’t want to get into the habit of playing a game that doesn’t matter,” Surace said. “We wanted to get a test right away. This was going to give us an amazing opportunity to get ready for the rest of the year.”
Princeton QB Chad Kanoff passed for a career-best 352 yards and three touchdowns in the win over San Diego.