It was a long walk back to the locker room for the football team on Friday following its 35–21 defeat to Hightstown High School. The loss was an especially difficult one to swallow because it took place in front of a near-capacity homecoming crowd.
The Little Tigers squandered two red zone opportunities in the first quarter, fumbling inside the 20 yard-line with just over ten minutes remaining in the period, and turning the ball over on downs with 1:15 on the clock.
Despite these early missteps, Princeton was still able to strike first via a scoring run by running-back Rory Helstrom ’16 eight minutes before halftime, and had the ball inside Hightstown’s twenty yard-line with 30 seconds left in the half and the score tied at 14. But, quarterback Dave Beamer ’16 was picked off, and two quick completions from Hightstown quarterback Ryan Conlon, the second of which resulting in a touchdown as time expired, gave the Rams a 21–14 halftime lead.
“We should’ve put’em away,” Beamer said. “First half we had three turnovers inside the twenty yard-line. You just can’t have that happen.”
Hightstown extended its lead with another touchdown midway through the third quarter, but PHS was able to pull the deficit back to one possession after converting on a gutsy fourth and goal try from the 16 yard-line. However, Princeton’s attempt at a comeback was shot down when Hightstown ran the ball down the field before converting on a pass from Conlon to wide receiver Kieran Murphy to seal the game.
Conlon led the way for the visitors, accumulating 390 total yards and throwing for all five of his team’s touchdowns.
“The defense couldn’t stop [Conlon],” said Head Coach Charles Gallagher. “He was hitting all of his throws … [and] kept us off balance, whether he was throwing the ball [or] running the ball.”
Helstrom was strong for the Little Tigers, racking up 188 total yards and scoring Princeton’s first two touchdowns.
The football team’s next game is this Saturday at Lawrence High School.
“We just get back to work,” Gallagher said. “We got a big game at Lawrence. It’s next door to us, so it’s a rivalry, and we’ll get after it.”