On a night where Penn sprint football’s defense let Franklin Pierce back into the game by way of the big play, a miscue on offense ultimately led to a loss.
Tied going into overtime, Penn allowed Franklin Pierce to score on a long touchdown run before taking its possession. The only problem for the Falcons was that they missed the extra point.
All Penn needed to do was put seven on the board and it was game over.
And on the second play of Penn’s drive, freshman Mike McCurdy found senior Freddy Ordonez on a post route and a win looked assured.
But at the two-yard line the wideout fumbled the ball, which the Falcons recovered in the end zone for a touchback, ending the contest with the Quakers falling to the Falcons, 33-27.
After Penn (2-2) jumped out to a 24-13 lead in the first half, the defense continued to give up big plays that ultimately led to a loss.
“We had that game,” coach Bill Wagner said. “And we let it slip away.”
The Falcons (3-2) racked up 452 yards of offense on the night, including a 57-yard pass and a 50-yard run from freshman Ryan O’Kelly, who ultimately proved the difference both with his legs and his arms, as it was on his back that the Falcons worked their way back into the contest in the second half.
O’Kelly threw for 242 yards and picked up another 98 on the ground, winning the battle of the freshman quarterbacks.
McCurdy cannot be blamed for the Quakers’ loss, as he threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns.
The problem was that the offense committed far too many penalties.
The Quakers committed 13 penalties on the evening, good enough to give Franklin Pierce 110 extra yards on the night.
But to use penalties as an excuse would be to take a narrow view of the game, as the Falcons also committed 14 penalties for 135 yards.
At the end of the day, the Quakers still had plenty of opportunities in the fourth quarter to put Franklin Pierce away.
After the defense allowed the Falcons to tie the game with 5:35 remaining, the Quakers had two opportunities on offense to put the game away, but both times the Red and Blue came up cold.
Instead, it was Franklin Pierce who drove down the field. Helped by a defensive pass interference penalty, the Falcons were in range for a field goal that would have won the game until Penn stepped up to block the kick, a play that would have carried a lot more weight had the game’s end result been different.
Even such a great play couldn’t make up for the Quakers’ many miscues on the night.
Penn’s offense made big plays both through the air and on the ground early, but both the run game and the pass game fell quiet in the second half, making a porous defense look that much worse.
“We could have and should have scored more points,” Wagner said.
But it was ultimately the defense that led to the loss and that’s what will have to be fixed going forward.
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