Out with the old, in with the ... wait, not this week.
Penn sprint football played its annual Alumni Game last Saturday, as the Quakers’ current squad took on a group of recent program graduates. The active squad beat their elders, 44-7, behind five total touchdowns from junior quarterback Mike McCurdy.
“[The game] really gives you a chance to play as a team,” coach Bill Wagner said. “It helps you get organized on all your sideline stuff, find out your depth at positions.”
The Alumni scored the first touchdown of the day, going up 7-0 on their first drive via a 44-yard touchdown pass. However, the current squad responded by putting up 44 unanswered points, cruising to an easy victory and winning the associated bragging rights.
McCurdy, who will be Penn’s starting quarterback for the third straight season, was the team’s clear offensive star of the day. He threw four touchdowns through the air to four different receivers and scampered for a 30-yard rushing score as well.
Freshman running back Jake Klaus ran for 118 yards and a touchdown as the team’s primary option out of the backfield. Klaus will be essential to replacing the hole in the rushing game left by graduate Mike Beamish, who played in the game on Saturday for the Alumni side.
Senior Jack Epstein was the team’s leading receiver, racking up 56 yards and a touchdown through the air. Classmate Henry Mason added 47 yards and a score of his own.
Senior linebacker and team leader Derek Shnider was quick to emphasize the importance of the game.
“For the program, [the game] is pretty important, since you have all the alumni coming back, and they want to play well, and obviously all the guys wanna play the guys who just graduated and kick their ass.”
The return of the alumni, however, was not all about the game itself. The weekend featured several important events off the field, including the dedication of the coaches’ locker room inside the Hollenback Center and the annual postgame barbecue.
The players also had an opportunity Friday night to attend the Athlete and Alumni Mentoring Panel, which exposed current players to post-graduation career opportunities.
“They bring in a lot of guys from consulting, finance, doctors, some guy who works with people in space,” Shnider said. “Pretty much anything you wanna do, they can help you out. I know one kid who got an internship from it last year.”
Despite McCurdy’s nearly immaculate offensive game, Shnider cited Sam Smallzman as the player that stood out the most. The freshman linebacker led the team with six tackles and a sack.
The game also featured another important addition to the Quakers’ squad: spiffy new, red-and-blue, form-fitting, sleek uniforms.
“Aw man, they’re awesome,” said Shnider of the team’s new regalia.
The alumni game represented the most important preseason tuneup for the Quakers, who will kick of their 2015 season for real on Saturday when they host Franklin Pierce. The game will be the first of any sort played at newly renovated Franklin Field, which underwent extensive change over the summer.
And the Red and Blue surely hope that their dominant performance in the Alumni Game will be a sign of things to come.
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