By Tom Bone
For The Register-Herald
In their must-win game on Friday night, the mistakes were too many for Woodrow Wilson, and Princeton made enough big plays — and small plays.
On a chilly senior night at Hunnicutt Stadium, the Tigers dominated the ball with 52 snaps for 397 total yards and limited the Flying Eagles to 206 yards of offense to take a 28-21 victory in a penalty-ridden home finale.
The win keeps Princeton’s hopes for a postseason berth alive, and practically wipes out Woodrow Wilson’s chances.
Princeton (5-4) head coach Randy Peek said, “In this offense, the flexbone, you’ve got to have ball control and time of possession, we have to win that. And we were doing a great job of it. We just never put them away.”
Woodrow Wilson (3-4) head coach John H. Lilly said, “Tip our hat to Coach Peek. Their guys played good, solid, fundamental football, and our guys made too many mistakes in a big game. You just can’t do that.
“Sometimes you get the bear; sometimes the bear gets you.”
On the second play of the game, Princeton sophomore Jordan Jones broke through the line for an 88-yard touchdown. He ended the night with 132 yards on six carries.
“It all starts with the linemen up front,” Jordan said. “I thank them, and I thank God for giving me the ability to come out here and play the game.
“We came out here, and we (were) ready. It was senior night, and we had to do it for the seniors.”
Peek said, “Jordan’s really come around. He’s a big play-maker. ... To spread the wealth like we did, you can’t key on one person in our offense. You’ve got four back there.”
The Flying Eagles’ first possession lasted nine plays and ended with two incomplete passes. Princeton took over on its own 10 and turned in a 90-yard drive that took 8 1/2 minutes, ending with a pass from Jay Palmer to Devin Allen, setting up a 14-0 lead.
The visitors got on the board soon after when quarterback Brent Osborne got loose around right end for a 59-yard score. He ran for 131 yards on the night.
Peek said, “Early in the game, we made an adjustment on the Osborne kid. He ran hard. He surprised us, he really did.”
Chase Hancock got the ball back for the visitors with an interception that he returned to the Princeton 10, but a series of penalties on Woodrow Wilson kept it from converting. Again, the possession ended with two incomplete passes by Osborne.
The Tigers used up almost all of the rest of the half with a drive that Palmer capped with a one-yard touchdown with 31.8 seconds left on the clock, using a tight formation that resembled a sack of bowling balls lurching forward.
Princeton held Woodrow Wilson to a three-and-out to start the second half, then mounted another march of 70 yards that took almost eight minutes. Tahj Sho-Johnson sped the last 17 yards to the goal line, and the Tigers led 28-7.
The Flying Eagles weren’t done. Osborne passed and ran the Flying Eagles to the other end of the field. Hancock took the ball the final three yards for a touchdown with 10:05 remaining.
Allen fumbled the ball away to end Princeton’s next series and Troy Lilly recovered for Woodrow Wilson on the Princeton 29.
John H. Lilly said that Troy Lilly “has had a good season all year. He’s a special kid, and he’s led us all year.”
Osborne scored on a 6-yard keeper, and his kick closed the gap to 28-21 with 6:13 left.
They never got the ball back.
Princeton converted on a fourth-down play with 2:26 left as Palmer got one hard yard. After the measurement, the Tigers achieved the first down by the nose of the ball.
Princeton senior Nick Wood said, “It was nerve-wracking in the fourth quarter. We felt we were done. Quarterback Brent Osborne for Woodrow, he’s a stud. He came up there, put them in the end zone, led his team. Adversity hit us in the face, and we came back and shut it out.
“I’m just glad we got the win tonight.”
John H. Lilly said, “We knew it was going to be down to the last minute. ... I’m real proud of our kids. We have 14, 15 kids out injured. We’re playing a lot of young kids, and they fought like crazy.”
Jones said, “The defense was key, very key. They came out here and made tackles, We stopped them at big moments. They had the momentum, but we came through.”
Hancock got only 33 yards rushing on nine carries.
Princeton senior Khalil Douglas said, “We really weren’t looking at him, at all. Actually, we were just playing defense. That’s just what we do, as a defense. We just want to play sound defense, and shut down each and every team.”
Peek said, “We kept giving them life, with penalties and the fumble. That’s not characteristic of us. We’re going to clean it up.”
Then he added, “We came away with the win, and I’m proud of the kids.”
The Flying Eagles play at Oak Hill next Friday. Princeton has next week off before concluding its regular season on Nov. 8 at James Monroe.
— Contact Tom Bone at
WW 0 7 0 14 — 21
P 7 14 7 0 — 28
P - Jordan Jones 88 run (Tahj Sho-Johnson kick), 10:57
P - Devin Allen 8 pass from Jay Palmer (Sho-Johnson kick), 10:30
WW - Brent Osborne 59 run (Osborne kick), 9:41
P - Palmer 1 run (Colton Fix kick), 0:31.8
P - Sho-Johnson 17 run (Fix kick), 1:55
WW - Chase Hancock 3 run (Osborne kick), 10:05
WW - Osborne 6 run (Osborne kick), 6:13
RUSHING — WW, Brent Osborne 10-131, Chase Hancock 9-33, Troy Lilly 2-3. P, Jordan Jones 6-132, Tahj Sho-Johnson 15-77, Jay Palmer 16-58, Aaron Saunders 8-48, Devin Allen 7-34.
PASSING — WW, Osborne 6-10-39 yds.-0-0. P, Palmer 3-7-48-1-1.
RECEIVING — WW, Nequan Carrington 2-20, Raymond Thompson 1-1, Noah Hancock 1-9, Hancock 1-6, Trey Cole 1-3. P, Kirkland Perdue 1-21, Jones 1-19, Allen 1-8.