William & Mary holds off Penn football, 27-14
Defense keeps Quakers in game in rough first half
October 12, 2013, 6:31 pm·
Ellen Frierson | DP
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Coming off the longest game in Ivy football history, a hangover might have been expected for Penn.
And indeed, the Quakers struggled out of the gate Saturday at William & Mary, getting gashed on the ground in the early going and lacking any offensive rhythm whatsoever.
So for the second year in a row, Penn set itself up for a come-from-behind proposition against the Tribe, notching two fourth-quarter touchdowns to narrow what had been a 21-0 deficit for the Quakers to a 27-14 loss.
The game started off disastrously for the Quakers (2-2), as senior quarterback Billy Ragone was strip-sacked on the initial Penn drive, and the Tribe (4-2) promptly pounded the ball into the end zone to take an early 7-0 lead.
“Obviously that’s not how we wanted to start off,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. “We’ve got to do a better job of protecting the football, and not giving the other guys — especially when its an
opponent of that caliber — that short of a field.”
Both teams traded punts for the remainder of the first quarter.
The Penn defense showed resilience during the second quarter, making a fourth-down stop when the Tribe was on the brink of field goal range and also stopping a potent Tribe drive that resulted in a missed 42-yard field goal.
Still, a crucial sequence came deep in Penn territory with less than two minutes before the half. On the three-yard line, sophomore Tribe running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor took a direct snap and plunged up the middle, only to have the ball jarred loose
by sophomore defensive back Dylan Muscat. The ball fell through senior Penn defensive end Tosan Eyetsemitan’s arms and bounced out of play.
Senior Tribe quarterback Michael Graham connected with junior receiver Tre McBride on a fade for a touchdown on the very next play.
“We could have minimized the damage there,” Bagnoli said.
The Quakers’ offense struggled to find a rhythm in the first half, having to punt the ball six times. In the first half, Ragone only threw for 16 yards and the Quakers’ longest play totaled just 12
“We have to come out stronger next game,” said senior defensive back Sebastian Jaskowski, who led the team with 12 total tackles.
“We can’t be waiting for late game heroics.”
On the flip side, the Tribe running game found success early, posting 117 yards on the ground in the first half. Abdul-Saboor took the largest share of carries with 13, but redshirt freshman Kendell Anderson also chipped in with 49 yards on only five
rushes before half.
Penn’s defense held up its end, forcing three turnovers on the night. The Penn pass defense held its own in the first half, only
giving up 54 yards. That success can also be attributed to the pass rush, led by sophomore defensive end Austin Taps, who had two
“We’re always playing run first on the D-line, but as soon as we see that guy drop back, we try to make a play,” Taps said. “The defense did that well today.”
And less than five minutes into the third quarter, Jaskowski forced a fumble from Anderson deep in Penn territory, but the Quakers promptly gave the ball away after getting just one first
Later in the third quarter, senior defensive back Dan Wilk made an acrobatic interception at midfield, but the offense followed the effort with a three-and-out.
The Quakers offense finally converted early in the fourth quarter, embarking on an impressive eight-play, 66-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown reception from junior tight end Ryan O’Malley with 11:20 remaining in the contest.
After a strip-sack by senior Sam Chwarzynski less than a minute later, the Quakers capitalized on a short field, as O’Malley caught his second touchdown of the game to cut the lead to 21-14.
“It’s always easier to score when you have short fields,” Bagnoli said. “We started creating a few turnovers ourselves, gave the offense some short fields and we were able to capitalize and make things interesting.”
But it was too little, too late for Penn, with the Tribe notching a final touchdown late to seal the win. Despite the loss, Bagnoli
“We played about as hard as we have all year,” he said. “We can get a lot out of this.