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Princeton Athletics | October 23, 2021

No. 17 Princeton wins crazy game against No. 16 Harvard, takes sole possession of first place

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There have been some crazy Princeton-Harvard football games through the years, and now somewhere near the top of the list you can add the 2021 edition.

As Trevor Forbes knocked away the final pass of the, what was it, fifth overtime, the 2021 edition did not get added to the list of excruciating Princeton-Harvard games, another where it would have been close to the No. 1 spot.

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A game that looked like it was won then lost then really was lost, then might have been lost again, instead turned into a huge Princeton victory. Cole Smith converted a two point conversion attempt to Jacob Birmelin in the fifth overtime and then Forbes knocked away the potential tying attempt to give Princeton a thrilling 18-16 win in front of a Homecoming day crowd of 10,033 at Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.

Where in the world do you start to explain what happened? Princeton and Harvard went to overtime tied at 13-13. Each made a field goal on its two overtime possessions, and with the new rules, the game would now be decided by alternating two point conversion attempts.

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Princeton went first and did not convert. Harvard appeared to convert, only to have the apparent game winning score negated after the officials conferred and agreed that Princeton head coach Bob Surace had called time out prior to the snap. With another chance, Harvard again appeared to score, but an offensive pass interference call wiped that out and Princeton held on the next try.

Harvard again tried but did not convert. Now it was Princeton's turn and Dylan Classi threw for Birmelin in the corner of the end zone. This time, it took replay to confirm that it was incomplete.

Still tied at 16-16, the teams went to a fifth overtime. This time, Birmelin made a great catch in the corner of the end zone, making it 18-16. Forbes then slapped the ball away on the Harvard try giving the Tigers the win.

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Princeton is now 6-0 and 4-0 in the Ivy League. Harvard, who came in unbeaten, fell to 5-1 and 3-1, tied for second with Columbia, Dartmouth, and Yale. Princeton is at Cornell on Friday night on ESPNU. It's the first time Princeton has won an overtime game since defeating Harvard, 51-48, in three overtimes on Oct. 26, 2013.

The Tigers' only touchdown came on a blocked punt for a touchdown. Liam Johnson got his hand on it while Cash Goodhart scooped up the ball in the endzone. It's the first time Princeton had blocked a punt for a touchdown since Jesper Horsted (block) and Jeremiah Tyler (touchdown) did the honors vs. Penn on Nov. 5, 2016.

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Speaking of Tyler ...

The postgame scene was a mad house as fans stormed field. The players enjoyed the moment on the field with friends and family. The senior linebacker, who finished with 12 tackles, still had some pent-up energy as he walked off to the media scrum outside the Princeton locker room.

"Can I give you a hug," he said to Bill Alden of the Town Topics. The two embraced.

Safe to say, a lot of Princeton fans want to give Tyler a hug after today.

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