Princeton (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) has had its best start in nine years after beating Columbia (0-3, 0-1) in an overtime nail-biter to open Ivy League play. The University of Pennsylvania (2-1, 1-0) is still a force to be reckoned with after annihilating Dartmouth (0-3, 0-1) in their Ivy opener. Harvard (3-0, 1-0) and Brown (2-1, 0-1) finished with decisive wins while Cornell (1-2, 1-0) fell short on a late comeback against Towson.

Princeton 27, Columbia 26, OT

Saturday afternoon’s Ivy opener at Wien Stadium was much more than a mere catfight.

Princeton defensive back Jay McCareins showed his range of talent as he used his offensive and special teams skills to push the visiting team to a thrilling overtime victory against the Lions as the Tigers progressed to 3-0 in the league — a feat they have not matched since 1995.

With 2:11 remaining in regulation, Columbia running back Ayo Oluwole scored a touchdown to put the Lions ahead 20-17. In the ensuing possession, facing a fourth-and-six crisis, Princeton quarterback Matt Verbit made a gutsy move with a 13-yard pass to McCareins for a first down.

Verbit and McCareins connected twice more on the following two plays to bring the Tigers close enough for Princeton kicker Derek Javarone to nail a 21-yard field goal with five seconds left.

Tied 20-20, Columbia had the first possession in overtime and let Lions running back Rashad Biggers do all the work as he carried the ball into the end zone in only three plays.

McCareins, who had already blocked a field goal earlier that day, made the game-saving play as he reached his hand out to block Columbia kicker Nick Rudd’s extra point, keeping the Lions’ lead to only 26-20.

On Princeton’s ensuing drive, Verbit faced yet another fourth down at a crucial point and went for it again, this time beating the blitz and running all the way down to the two-yard line. Two plays later, Tiger tailback Jon Veach drove the ball in to tie the game 26-26, and Javarone completed the rally with the extra point.

This marked the first game this season that Princeton went scoreless for the entire first quarter. But the Tiger defense forced Columbia to do the same.

The Tigers did draw first blood in the second quarter on a run from running back Benson Brandon, taking a 7-0 lead. The Lions quickly responded with a touchdown from quarterback Jeff Otis, but McCareins blocked the extra point to keep a one-point lead at halftime.

Javarone scored the only points in the third on a 25-yard field goal and both teams exchanged a touchdown at the start of the fourth before Columbia took its first lead of the game on Oluwole’s run.

Pennsylvania 35, Dartmouth 0

The score pretty much says it all.

After a heart-breaking, streak-breaking loss last Saturday to Villanova, the Quakers shook it off against the ailing Big Green at Franklin Field and treated themselves to their first shutout since 2002.

Penn’s dominating offense determined the outcome of this game as Quaker quarterback Pat McDermott went 21-for-34 for 249 yards. Penn wide receiver Dan Castles contributed 145 yards on eight catches for three touchdowns in the first half and Penn running back Sam Matthews chipped in 131 yards on 23 carries.

The domination did not start until the final nine seconds of the first quarter when Castles stepped into the end zone on a two-yard toss from McDermott. Quaker kicker Brian Arguello kicked in his first of four extra points to start Penn out with a 7-0 lead.

McDermott opened the second quarter leading a 94-yard drive capped off by a 24-yard touchdown catch from Castles. After Penn forced Dartmouth to punt, McDermott found Castles open a third time and launched a 52-yard bomb into his arms for the touchdown.

Penn’s offense took a rest in the second half, but the defense wanted to do a little scoring of its own. After keeping Dartmouth off the scoreboard for the third quarter, Quaker linebacker Luke Hadden intercepted a Big Green pass and ran the ball in for a 35-yard touchdown. Penn defensive back Victor Davanzo completed the scoring after picking off another pass and taking it in for a 61-yard touchdown.

Dartmouth was never able to get things started offensively and finished the day with only 54 yards rushing and 178 yards in-the-air. The overpowering force of the Quaker defense and offense had the Big Green walking off the field all black and blue.

Harvard 38, Lafayette 23

Harvard running back Clifton Dawson scored three touchdowns and had his ninth consecutive game with over 100 rushing yards in a decisive victory over Lafayette Saturday at Fisher Field.

The Crimson defense also contributed three interceptions — two from linebacker Sean Tracy and one from linebacker Matt Thomas. The Cantabs opened the scoring when Dawson made a one-yard dive into the end zone to cap off a 65-yard drive to give Harvard a 6-0 lead. Kicker Matt Schindel missed the extra point.

Lafayette responded with a touchdown of its own on a 19-yard run by running back Brandon Stanford before the start of the second quarter to take its first and only lead of the game.

Harvard responded with a reverse from Dawson to wide receiver Brian Edwards, who ran 35 yards to get to the four-yard line. Crimson quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the drive on the next play with a four-yard scramble. Fitzpatrick also went for two points on a pass to wide receiver Corey Mazza to take a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.

Mazza found himself in the end zone again after a 61-yard reception from Fitzpatrick to increase the lead to two touchdowns. Lafayette nabbed a field goal with seconds remaining before halftime to cut the lead to 11.

Dawson opened the second half with his second touchdown of the day to take a 28-10 lead. Leopard quarterback Brad Maurer found his receiver Joe McCourt open for a nine-yard touchdown pass just before the end of the third to cut the lead back to 11.

Dawson opened the final frame with a three-yard touchdown run and McCourt responded with a six-yard run into the end zone, but Lafayette blew the two-point conversion that would have cut the lead to ten.

Schindel put the final nail on the coffin with a 31-yard field goal. Harvard finished the day with 456 offensive yards, including 172 rushing yards by Dawson.

Brown 20, Rhode Island 13

Brown running back Nick Hartigan led the Bears to a win over the University of Rhode Island Saturday afternoon, earning the Governor’s Cup. Hartigan himself ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns while the Brown defense held the Rams to only a single offensive touchdown.

The Bears started out slowly as Brown quarterback Joe DiGiacomo threw an interception on the Bears’ first play of the game. The Brown defense held the Rams off and gave DiGiacomo a second chance, but late in the first quarter, a Rhode Island defender stripped the ball from the Bears quarterback and picked it up for a 34-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. Hartigan then took over and tied the game on a 10-yard run. Hartigan struck again in the opening of the second quarter to cap off an 80-yard drive with another 10-yard run to take a 14-7 lead.

The Rams threatened to tie the game after responding with a touchdown of their own, but the Rhode Island kicker missed the extra point, preserving Brown’s lead at 14-13.

Bears kicker Steve Morgan gave Brown some breathing room with a 23-yard field goal eight seconds before the final quarter. Morgan launched one more from 25 yards back to seal the victory.

Towson 21, Cornell 11

A last minute comeback was just too little, too late for the Big Red as the team fell to Towson Saturday afternoon at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

The Tigers kept Cornell off the board the entire first half, while Towson running back Kerry Miles opened the scoring in the first quarter with a two-yard touchdown run.

Tigers wide receiver Will Marcus scored the second touchdown on a 43-yard pass before halftime. The Big Red, however, used the break to build up some momentum for the second half.

Kicker Trevor MacMeekin broke the dry spell with a 32-yard field goal to make it 14-3, but Towson opened the final segment with a 55-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Eric Yancey to take a commanding 21-3 lead.

Cornell only had enough left in itself to pull off one touchdown on a 23-yard connection from quarterback D.J. Busch to tight end Troy Follmar to end the game 21-11.