Any time athletes come back from an injury which ended their previous season, there are doubts they will have the same explosion when they return.
Conner Scott and Lyle Marsh put all doubts to rest in their first games back after both suffering season-ending injuries last year.
In Saturday’s loss to Lafayette, the Quakers’ offense often looked unprepared against the Leopards’ athletic defense. But Scott and Marsh shined, combining for 228 of Penn’s 423 total yards.
Scott was the Quakers’ leading receiver, pulling in 12 passes for 161 yards. Both are the most by a Penn receiver in eight years.
“They had a real good connection, him and the quarterbacks,” Lafayette cornerback Darius Safford said. “We respected him and just tried to prevent the big plays.”
Despite his outstanding performance, Scott wasn’t satisfied.
“When it comes down to it, I could have made more plays,” the junior receiver said.
Scott holds himself to the highest of expectations. Before the opener, he explained that he wants to be first-team All-Ivy this season and eventually become an All-American.
“They’re high goals, but I’m going to work hard to achieve them,” he said.
While Scott had the most receptions and yards for the Quakers, running back Lyle Marsh caught both of the team’s passing touchdowns.
Though Marsh had only two rushing carries for just one yard, he was a force lining up both in backfield and as a slot receiver.
“Lyle gives you tremendous versatility,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. “Having him back allows you to do things in the pass game and allows you to have another inside presence.”
Marsh will split carries this season with fellow seniors and ‘Stable’ members Brandon Colavita and Jeff Jack. As a freshman, Marsh led the Quakers in rushing and earned second-team All-Ivy honors. But he suffered season-ending injuries in each of the last two seasons, allowing Colavita to emerge as Penn’s leading back.
But Marsh doesn’t mind splitting carries with his teammates.
“We’re definitely better off having three guys that can do it,” he said. “Because obviously if one of us gets hurt, the other one can step in.”
It didn’t take long for the first running back injury to occur. Colavita left the opening game early with a rib injury. His status for Saturday’s game against Villanova is unclear.
But Scott and Marsh prove that an injury isn’t necessarily the worst career obstacle.
Scott has called last year’s injury “the best thing that ever happened to [him].” He was able to bulk up and work on his route running while rehabilitating in the offseason.
“The injuries … just made me mentally tougher,” the senior tailback said. “It teaches you to go all-out every chance you get and don’t waste your opportunities.”
If Scott and Marsh can continue to produce like they did against Lafayette throughout the season, it will be hard to ignore the positives that came out of the pair’s injuries a year ago.