Princeton-Harvard football: A history in pictures


1877: Princeton’s 1877 squad was the first to beat Harvard (and the first to lose to the Crimson – the teams played twice that year.) Now entering its 103rd game, the Princeton-Harvard series trails only Princeton-Yale on the Tigers’ list of most-played rivalries.  (Athletics at Princeton: A History)


1921: Seven years after Palmer Stadium’s opening, the Tigers still were winless against the Crimson in their new home. With 50,000 fans looking on, Princeton’s Ralph Gilroy ’23 turned a short pass into a 65-yard touchdown play with five minutes remaining, and the Tigers held on for a 10-3 victory. To view this post as a slide show, click on the image above. (Bric-a-Brac)

1926: On game day, the Harvard Lampoon stoked the rivalry by rolling out a phony edition of the Harvard Crimson that reported, among other things, the death of Princeton coach Bill Roper. The Tigers won, 12-0, in a game that PAW reporter Hugh McNair Kahler 1904 called “indescribably intense” but cleanly played. Still, bad blood had been building for several years, and in the weeks that followed, Princeton and Harvard announced plans to suspend their series. (PAW Archives)

1934: Harvard captain Herman Gundlach and Princeton captain Mose Kalbaugh ’35, right, shook hands at midfield before the game that restored the two schools’ rivalry. The Tigers won, 19-0. Since then, the series has endured just one interruption, from 1943-45, due to World War II. (PAW Archives)

1957: Eight days after the death of legendary coach Charlie Caldwell ’25, the Tigers traveled to Cambridge and earned a 28-20 come-from-behind win, a crucial step in Princeton’s first official Ivy League championship. (The league formed in 1956.) Running back Mike Ippolito ’60, above, scored three touchdowns in the game. (The Daily Princetonian Larry Dupraz Digital Archives)

1969: Ellis Moore ’70, above, may have been the greatest Crimson killer of his era. He ran for five touchdowns – still a Princeton single-game record – in a 45-6 Princeton rout in 1967 and racked up three more scores in a 51-20 win two years later. (Bob Matthews/PAW Archives)
PU football vs. Harvard2006: Trailing by four points in the fourth quarter, Jeff Terrell ’07 drove the Tigers 61 yards in eight plays, throwing to Brendan Circle ’08 for the game-winning touchdown. Princeton would finish the year 9-1, win the Big Three championship, and share the Ivy League title with Yale. (© Beverly Schaefer)

6 thoughts on “Princeton-Harvard football: A history in pictures

  1. Ellis Moore '70

    I agree with my teammate Peter Kashatus ’68 that this particular Princeton-Harvard contest was one of the most exciting, well-played games in Princeton football history. “Old guy” that he is, I will overlook his lapse in memory as to the year of the game’s occurrence. I know it was 1966, however, for as much as I would like to have participated in that memorable contest, I was in the stands watching along with the rest of the Princeton freshman football team, as we digested the 6-6 “loss” to Harvard’s freshman team…the only game we did not win that year…earlier that day. To Pete’s point, I could not agree more, the 1966 Princeton-Harvard game was memorable for its classic and unexpected comeback, by a team (Princeton) which had not been favored that day nor, in reality, most games that season. My only problem in trying to qualify the excitement and drama of that game is the fact that it was followed by another of similar import in Princeton football history the very next week against Yale. On that day, Princeton captured the 1966 Big Three title (and a traditional bonfire) by virtue of a 13-7 win over the Bulldogs Yale; a win which was not finalized until a blocked punt was returned for a touchdown by the Tigers in the waning moments of the contest. Either of these gamed could have a legitimate claim to being among the most exciting in modern day (can I say that in 2015) Princeton football history; but viewed as a pair, I cannot imagine two consecutive contests against more compelling opponents with more excitement, more drama or greater example of heart, determination and brotherhood. I doubt there is a pair of consecutive games in our history to that time which could match them for their excitement. Certainly for the freshman Tiger cubs in the stands that day in Palmer and a week later at the Yale Bowl, we could not have been treated to better examples of what would be expected of us, what we should demand of ourselves, and what the essence of sports, teamwork and dedication can be and produce. While the names of the players and teams in the limelight change over the weeks and years, Ivy Football affords all who participate and follow it an always fresh river of inspiration and example. Go Ivies!

  2. Brandon B.

    Thank you for sharing the history of the rivalry between Princeton and Harvard football teams. The old photograph are great and really added to my appreciation of the rivalry tradition between the two schools.

  3. Brett Tomlinson, PAW


    Thanks for your comment. PAW’s game coverage back then included a condensed play-by-play. Here’s the description of the game-winning touchdown drive:

    “Eichelberger takes Gahan’s kickoff on the 12, retreats to the seven in order to find running room and is downed there. Martin pulls the Tigers out of a hole by skirting the right side for 16 yards. Bracken slants off right end for two yards, then throws to Pierce for 19 yards and a first down at the 46. Bracken goes off tackle for one, is hit in the backfield for a loss of three, then throws to Pierce for 11 yards. Still a yard short of the first down, Princeton goes for it and makes it as Martin picks up two around right end. Martin goes up the middle three times and picks up a first down at the Harvard 32. Bracken breaks through the left guard spot for 18 yards. Bracken hits the middle for two, Martin goes off tackle for five, Bracken bulls down to the three-yard line for the first down. Martin sweeps right end for two, picks up a half yard up the middle, and then goes over the middle of the line for the score. Garcia converts. Princeton 18, Harvard 14.”

  4. Peter Kashatus '68

    Sorry. My previous comment incorrectly referred to the Princeton _ Harvard game of 1967. It was in fact the Princeton – Harvard game of 1966.

  5. Peter Kashatus '68

    I’m sorry you omitted one of the most exciting Princeton – Harvard games in the series when in 1967 Princeton drove 95 yards late in the game to score the winning touchdown and then held off a Harvard drive in the final minutes to seal the victory. A classic picture in the NY Times shows a jubilant Princeton defense throwing helmets into the air as the officials signal 1st down for Princeton after measuring a 4th down attempt by the Crimson in their final drive of the game thus ending Harvard’s undefeated season and earning a tie for the Ivy title.

    1. Ellis Moore

      I was just teasing a bit regarding the year of the game being wrong. “Whatever” the year, the 1966 contest was and will always be one of the most exciting and inspirational game in our history. Thanks for the remembrance and to Brett Tomlinson above for the condensed PAW description of that last drive.

      Great memories for all of us who watched, not to mention those who were engaged in the contest on the field.


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