If you were looking for offensive fireworks on Friday night, Jackie Hendricks Stadium wasn’t the place to be.
The defense was the story for both the Princeton Panthers and the Lebanon Trail Trail Blazers throughout the opening contest. Presley Self was the difference, however, as his six-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter gave Princeton a 14-7 win.
Princeton’s defense held Lebanon Trail to a measly 173 total yards. Last year, the Trail Blazers averaged 183 yards on the ground per game. Against the Panthers in week one, they only mustered 44.
“Our defense played great,” head coach Ervin Chandler said after the game. “They were led by the leader Billy Sanchez.”
Sanchez, who is just one of two returning starters on the defensive side of the ball and a team captain, played an integral part in keeping the Trail Blazers rushing attack at bay.
His fellow upperclassman Damarkus McCoy was also a key defensive piece according to coach Chandler. “He made some freaking great tackles, man. Open field tackles, behind the line of scrimmage tackles. The defense as a unit was great. Our guys played hard and tough for all four quarters.”
The offense held up their end of the bargain as well. Princeton punched in their first touchdown of the season early in the second quarter on a Ladon Mckinney one yard run to put them up seven with 8:33 to go in the first half. That scoring drive featured a couple of stellar throws from first-year starter Braeden Ratliff, who showed flashes of brilliance throughout the night.