It wasn’t an ideal situation for Princeton football coach Andre Parker in his season debut Thursday. On Monday he found out his starting quarterback would be standing on the sidelines with him.
Princeton took the field vs. Anderson minus last year’s Greater Miami Conference passing leader, Mekhi Lynn, who has been sporting a soft cast on the thumb of his throwing hand.
Enter 5-foot-8-inch, 160-pound sophomore T.J. Engleman. In his first varsity start, he was an elusive spinning wheel while running and able to loft the ball up to his lanky receivers.
Engleman finished with 245 yards rushing and two touchdowns while throwing for 297 yards and four scores as the Vikings outscored Anderson 58-45. The teams accounted for 1,197 yards of total offense with Princeton racking up 727 and Anderson 470.
“My offensive line put me in the right place,” Engleman said. “The coaches made up the game plan for me. I’m just trying to fill in while QB1 (Lynn) is out. I’m just trying to look at my reads and run the right thing.”
Added Coach Parker, “We knew Day One what TJ was. He came out and was very calm He made one or two misreads. Even after his mistakes, he was ready to bounce back. He’s a gamer. It’s just the beginning for him.”
Engleman got the scoring underway with a 79-yard third-down scamper with 3:32 left in the first quarter. After that, he knew he belonged.
Also, new in the backfield for Princeton was Winton Woods senior transfer Emoni Steele. Steele found the end zone in the second quarter from a yard away after Englemon had hit Colerain transfer Isaiah Myers on a 38-yard completion.
By half’s end, Engleman had run for 169 yards and a score and thrown for 101 yards and a late-second quarter touchdown to Rodney Harris Jr. Princeton led by 11, 28-17 at the break.
“Those boys make me look good,” Engleman said of Harris and Myers.
But, what Anderson lacks in defense, they make up for in perpetual offense. Griffin Scalf, who also made his first varsity start had consecutive scoring passes to Evan Upchurch to give Anderson a 31-28 lead with 7:10 remaining in the third quarter.
They would not lead again.
The Vikings scored 24 straight points and led 52-31 after a Cole Walker field goal. Anderson added two more scoring passes from Scalf to Joey Faulkner, but time and turnovers cost them.
Wearing red now, Andre Parker still has not lost to Anderson since becoming a head coach in 2010. Most of those were as the Winton Woods coach and former Warrior Chris Oats and family were on hand to watch his first victory as a Viking.
Though he wasn’t pleased with his defense, he was thrilled for the opening win.
“I’ve been coaching long enough to take the win and be happy about it,” Parker said grinning. “Deep down, I’ve some things that are unsettling that I have to fix.”
Anderson coach Evan Dreyer’s offenses typically feature a 3,000-plus yard passer and this year looks like no exception. Junior Scalf was 33-for-53 for 462 yards with six touchdown passes. Faulkner finished with 11 catches for 201 yards with two scores and Upchurch had seven for 154 and four touchdowns.
Lynn said prior to the game that he expects to be back in a week or two. He is a quarterback commit at Buffalo where former Princeton coach Mike Daniels is on staff. Daniels kept up with his alma mater via Twitter during the game.
Engleman’s game is similar.
“He’s special,” Daniels said via text. “He might be a little better.”
Princeton will travel to Loveland on Friday, Aug. 27. Anderson will host Clinton-Massie the same night.
ANDERSON 7 10 14 14 45
PRINCETON 7 21 21 9 58
P – Engleman 79-yard run (Walker kick)
A – Scalf 10-yard pass to Upchurch (Brooke kick)
P – Steele 1-yard run (Walker kick)
A – Scalf 56-yard pass to Upchurch (Brooke kick)
A – Brooke 36-yard FG
P – Borden 4-yard run (Walker kick)
P – Engleman 17-yard pass to Harris (Walker kick)
A – Scalf 32-yard pass to Upchurch (Brooke kick)
A – Scalf 23-yard pass to Upchurch (Brooke kick)
P – Engleman 5-yard pass to Myers, lateral to Borden (Walker kick)
P – Engleman 37-yard pass to Myers (Walker kick)
P – Engleman 28-yard pass to Harris (Walker kick)
P – Walker 32-yard FG
A – Scalf 27-yard pass to Faulkner (Brooke kick)
P – Engleman 6-yard run (Walker kick)
A-Scalf 26-yard pass to Faulkner (Upchurch kick)