On a warm, windy Saturday afternoon at Franklin Field, Penn football took the field to culminate spring activities in its annual Spring Game.
Supported by parents, fans and alumni in the stands, the Red team (offense) squared off against the Blue team (defense) for several series and situations on the field.
With the wind on its side, the Blue team forced two interceptions and came up with five sacks to capture the win over the Red team, according to coach Al Bagnoli and his staff’s special scoring system.
Early observations showed that several players sat out the contest, either due to injury or as a precautionary measure.
Junior cornerbacks Kevin Ijoma , Dexter Davis and Mike Laning , as well as sophomore receiver Cameron Countryman , freshman cornerback Lonnie Tuff and sophomore offensive lineman Jack York all rested for precautionary measures. junior wideouts Eric Fiore and Billy Lewis , who sustained injuries last season, also sat out.
“Once we’re healthy, we’ve got a chance to be really good . . . We’re very optimistic we can be pretty good on both sides of the ball,” Bagnoli said.
Freshman quarterback Alek Torgersen started under center for Penn. On the third play from scrimmage, sophomore Kenny Thomas intercepted Torgersen and the offense remained stagnant for the next two drives, gaining only five yards on its first three drives combined and starting the game 0-for-8 passing.
Besides Torgersen , several other potential quarterbacks are looking to fill the shoes of last year’s starters Billy Ragone and Ryan Becker , including junior Patton Chillura , sophomore Andrew Lisa and freshman Adam Strouss .
Interestingly, junior tailback Spencer Kulscar saw time at receiver throughout the game. Bagnoli spoke about Kulscar’s potential change of position from running back to wide out this season after the game.
“We wanted to move him out there because we wanted to take a look at some of these young tailbacks,” Bagnoli said. “We wanted to look at Brian Schoenauer and we wanted to take a look at some of these freshmen.
“Basically, we’ll take inventory of it. If we have to, we can move Spencer back to have a nice one-two punch.”
Strouss helped the offense finally break through as the game progressed, tossing a short pass near the sideline to Kulscar. He broke a tackle and outran a host of blue jerseys for a 60-yard touchdown scamper.
After the score, the teams moved to the red zone to practice goal line situations. Torgersen was able to rack up a second touchdown for the Red team with a pinpoint, 19-yard pass to junior tight end Mitchell King in the corner of the end zone.
Later, with Chillura under center, the offense scored again, this time on a short grab by sophomore tight end Ryan Kelly . Chillura finished 5-for-15 passing for 58 yards, with one score and one interception.
“We’ve had essentially two fifth-year seniors since I’ve been here, so there’s a huge power void at the top,” Chillura said. “The five quarterbacks here have been working our asses off all spring [but] you can’t have any substitute for in-game action.”
Chillura also noted the benefits of having veteran receivers return for the upcoming campaign.
“Having Conner [Scott] back has been big,” he said. “We get Conner and Ty Taylor back. You’ve got guys coming off of a redshirt year like Cole Stern and Spencer [Kulscar] moving to that position.
“All of those guys are great, and I think we’re going to have a pretty good passing game next year.”
The defense controlled the rest of the scrimmage. Sophomore cornerback Trent Dennington met running back Kyle Wilcox in the backfield with a powerful hit to force a fumble that rolled out of bounds. Soon after, sophomore defensive back Ian Dobbins recorded the Blue team’s second interception of the game.
Stern led the offense with two catches for 33 yards. Wilcox finished with 14 rushing yards on six tries, and Lisa recorded a game-high 20 yard run at the quarterback spot as well.
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