The Penn sprint football team never got a chance to pull off its late-game heroics at Franklin Field on Friday night.
Besieged by problems on both sides of the ball from the outset, the Quakers were run over by Navy, 44-10.
The Red and Blue never led, falling into an early hole after Joe Raso fumbled away the opening kickoff. The giveaway set up Navy for an early 36-yard field goal.
After a quick Penn three-and-out, the Midshipmen promptly followed up with a 42-yard rushing touchdown by Alex Horton, the first of five rushing touchdowns by five different players that the Quakers would surrender on the night.
Defensively, Penn never had an answer for the Midshipmen’s option-style rushing attack when they stretched it to the outside, surrendering 318 rushing yards on 55 attempts.
“For the most part, when they were running it up the middle, when they were trying to run the option, we stopped it pretty well,” junior defensive back Nick Rush said. “But there were a couple of broken plays where people took bad angles.”
One of those broken plays ultimately proved to be fatal to Penn’s hopes.
Early in the second quarter, the Penn defense appeared to regain some momentum after senior defensive end Anthony DiBella stopped Horton cold on third and goal from the 4-yard line.
Instead of kicking a field goal, though, holder Michael DeLong promptly flipped the ball to kicker Adrian Montecinos, who ran in around the left end for the touchdown.
The fake field goal put the Quakers in a 17-0 hole that they were unable to dig themselves out of.
“We weren’t really expecting it,” Rush said. “We were hoping to get the block, so we were really undermanned on [the left] side.”
“It’s always kind of disheartening when you run a trick play like that and it ends up working out,” he said.
While the defense had its hands full with Navy, the offense had plenty of problems of its own.
The Red and Blue only mustered 198 yards of total offense on the evening, with 80 of them coming on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from backup quarterback Danny Reyes to Michael Bass, long after the game had been decided.
Reyes, usually a defensive back, relieved starter Keith Braccia midway through the fourth quarter. His only completion was the Quakers’ longest offensive play of the season and was one of the few bright spots on the night.
Braccia never found any momentum during his time under center, finishing 5-for-16 with 35 passing yards and an interception.
The early deficit proved to be too much for the Quakers to overcome, as busted and broken plays mounted on both sides of the ball.
“They built an early lead,” sophomore defensive back Manuel Sainz de la Pena said. “And we had a series of tough breaks at the beginning of the game.”
With the loss, Penn drops to 2-4 on the season and will play its final game of the year at home against Princeton on Friday.
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