Technically, two teams stepped on Franklin Field to play a game of sprint football. Based on the final score, however, only one actually showed up.
On Friday, Penn sprint football wrapped up its season in dominating fashion, crushing a hapless Princeton squad, 75-12. The score represented the Quakers' highest output of the campaign and helped continue the Tigers' 16-year winless streak — in addition to not having won a single game since 1999, it has been two decades since Princeton dealt its rivals in Philadelphia a loss.
Before scoring 11 touchdowns on their way to victory, the Red and Blue celebrated Senior Night, as the friends and families of graduating players filled the stands to watch them play the last game of their careers.
What a way to go out.
Penn, which improved to 5-2 on the season, ensured the game’s outcome early on, scoring 42 points by the halftime whistle.
The Quakers concentrated the brunt of their attack on the ground, outgaining Princeton by 268 yards. Eight different players scored, with star freshmen Max Jones and Jake Klaus each contributing one rushing touchdown while junior quarterback Mike McCurdy used his legs to score two of his own. Penn’s backups also saw some action, as sophomore Zack DiGregorio recorded the first passing touchdowns of his career.
Sophomore defensive end Marcus Jones also had a big game for the Quakers, racking up eight total tackles and leading a defense that limited Princeton to 130 yards.
Friday night, however, was all about the seniors.
Henry Mason, Penn’s leading receiver, tallied 53 yards and two touchdowns in his final game. In recording 1003 career yards, Mason is just the third receiver to reach the 1000-yard plateau in school history. His 627 yards in his senior season also marks the second-highest single-season total in Penn history.
Despite a heartbreaking double-overtime loss to Army the week prior, one that dashed the Quakers' conference title hopes, Mason and his fellow seniors walk away satisfied with their accomplishments this season.
“It’s bittersweet. I’m sad that it’s done but it’s great to go out with a great group of guys,” Mason said. “They’re my best friends, and it’s nice to go out with a good season. I think our record [was our biggest accomplishment]. It all almost came together, and I think that reflects on the whole team.”
Coach Bill Wagner emphasized the impact that this season’s graduating core had on the development of his program.
“Our seniors did a super job this year,” Wagner said. “Our captains and other seniors that were on the squad really brought that young group of freshmen in. There wasn’t any class distinction at all."
And, looking ahead, Wagner and his team envision an age of prosperity in the coming years.
“[The players] are talking title already,” Wagner commented. “You can see the development of [Sam] Smallzman, [James] Juliano and [Tom] Console. We have a lot of really good freshmen and newcomers, and we’re really looking forward to next season.”
While Penn sprint football foresees a bright future, there are no certainties on the field. Injuries and close losses are always possibilities.
One thing the Quakers can count on, however, is that while they may face many challenges, Princeton likely will not be one of them.
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