1:00 PM ET, November 15, 2003
Princeton Stadium, Princeton, NJ
PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) -- For 58 minutes and 57 seconds, Yale looked nothing like the No. 2-ranked offense in Division I-AA.
From that point on, the Bulldogs were unstoppable.
Chandler Henley caught a touchdown pass with no time left in regulation to force overtime, Yale collected a touchdown and field goal in its first two overtime possessions and Princeton fumbled away a potential chance to win as the Bulldogs escaped with a 27-24 victory Saturday.
Henley's 22-yard touchdown catch from Alvin Cowan was the key, as the receiver beat Tim Strickland in the left corner of the end zone and lunged to make the grab. It capped an 11-play, 92-yard drive that began with 1:03 remaining.
"Chandler kept telling me during that whole two-minute drive to run that play, it was open," said Cowan, whose eight completions covered all 92 yards of the drive. "The coaches drill it in my head to keep a two-minute drill simple because they're gong to be playing people off, but on that play it was one of those things where you kind of get antsy. I think he was getting antsy."
John Troost's conversion forced overtime, the second time both teams had gone to the extra session this season. Princeton lost to Harvard 43-40 and Yale lost to Pennsylvania 34-31 in earlier overtime games.
"For 59 minutes of the game our defense played outstanding," Princeton coach Roger Hughes said. "I don't have an answer for what happened on that last drive other than Yale made some nice plays and had some nice catches."
Princeton (2-7, 2-4 Ivy League) got a 25-yard touchdown pass from Matt Verbit to Jon Veach on the first play of overtime and Yale (6-3, 4-2) countered with a 3-yard scoring pass from Cowan to Alex Faherty. Yale then got a field goal from Troost that proved to be the game-winner.
Princeton's first play in the second ovrtime was a completion to B.J. Szymanski, who took the ball to the 12 before it was knocked loose by Yale's James Beck. The ball bounced to the 5 before Dieffenbacher fell on it.
"During practice the coaches are always telling the defensive linemen on the quick passes to get downfield," Dieffenbacher said. "As soon as I turned, I thought 'Oh no, this is a 15-yard completion.' The ball popped out, I ran inside for it, and knocked over some bodies and jumped on it."
"Not a better guy to have trying to catch a fumble," Cowan said of the 6-3, 280-pound Dieffenbacher.
Yale entered the game second in Division I-AA in total offense with 481 yards per game, but was outgained 442-364 and had less than 250 yards in the first 59 minutes.
"They did a good job," Yale coach Jack Siedlecki said. "Their blitzes put a lot of pressure on us. They were very, very aggressive, which we did not see a lot of on tape. They came after us on that last drive and we made the plays. We threw the ball on time, we were patient."
Cowan, who entered the game second in the nation in total offense, was 21-for-44 for 235 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for a team-leading 61 yards. Veach rushed for 130 yards and Verbit was 18-for-29 for 265 yards.
"This was unbelievable," Henley said. "You kind of circle Princeton and Harvard at the end of the year, you want to win those more than anything, and to win it in this fashion after playing so bad for three quarters is unbelievable."
Trailing 17-3 at halftime, Yale got back in the game with a 19-play, 96-yard drive that was capped by Cowan's 8-yard touchdown pass to Ron Benigno late in third quarter.
The Tigers took a 7-0 lead on Veach's 20-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Troost and Princeton's Derek Javarone traded field goals, and the Tigers expanded their lead to 17-3 when Verbit threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Szymanski with 2:33 remaining in the first half.
Yale was outgained 311-146 in the half. The Bulldogs lost defensive end Brady Clegg and linebacker Ken Estrera, the team's leading tackler, in the half with leg injuries. Neither player returned to the game.