Last year, they got away. Saturday marks the rematch.
Penn football will travel to New York Saturday to play at Fordham for its road opener. In last year’s matchup, Penn came back from a 25-point deficit before losing on a late Fordham field goal, 48-45.
The Quakers (0-1) are looking to rebound from their season-opening 49-28 loss to Lehigh a week ago.
Last Saturday at Franklin Field, each offense imposed its will in the first half, scoring 28 points apiece. However, in the second half, Lehigh continued to score while the Quakers were left in the dust.
“I think it was just the rust for the first game,” junior running back Tre Solomon said. “Coming out in the second half, we lost our wind a little bit.”
On offense, quarterback Alek Torgersen led the way with 222 yards passing, 86 yards rushing and four total touchdowns (two passing, two rushing). 133 of those passing yards and both scores through the air went to junior wide receiver Justin Watson. However, Torgersen had 179 passing yards and 89 rushing yards at the half.
On defense, sophomore defensive back Mason Williams made a key interception deep in Lehigh territory and four Quaker defenders recorded eight or more tackles. One of them, junior linebacker Colton Moskal, said the team is eager to get another shot at the team’s first victory.
“We can’t wait to get back to work, go back on the field and show everybody what we’re all about,” Moskal said.
In last year’s matchup, the Quakers hosted the Rams (1-1) with now-graduated Andrew Lisa starting under center, as Torgersen was out with a head injury which had led him to leave the previous game against Dartmouth early.
Priore saw a comparison between the Fordham game last year and the game a week ago, when he saw Lehigh tie the game just before the half in a bizarre sequence of events that included a pair of timeouts, a roughing the passer penalty and a game clock correction.
“You can’t do things to give the other team opportunities,” he said. “In the first half [against Fordham] last year, our first two drives we turned it over, a fumble and a pick.”
With running back Chase Edmonds’ fourth of five total touchdowns boosting Fordham’s lead to 35-10 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half, the Red and Blue rallied. Two rushing touchdowns from the legs of senior running back Brian Schoenauer and connection from Lisa to graduated tight end Ryan O’Malley put Penn within five points, 35-30, by the end of the third quarter.
The Quakers overcame Edmonds’ fifth trip to the end zone with Schoenauer’s third. They conceded a field goal to Fordham, but immediately came back to tie the game at 45 with Lisa’s pass to graduated tight end Ryan Kelly. Just 1:46 remained in regulation. However, Fordham drove and kicked the game-winning field goal with eight seconds left.
“We learned a valuable lesson that the game is never over,” Priore said. “You have to keep fighting.”
Fordham’s offense is highlighted by senior quarterback Kevin Anderson and Edmonds, both returning after starring a season ago. Anderson, in his first year as Fordham’s starter in 2015, completed 229 of 342 pass attempts for 3,183 yards and 32 touchdowns, placing near or at the top of the Patriot League and FCS in most passing categories.
Edmonds, a 2015 consensus All-American and Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, totaled 2,031 rushing and receiving yards with 25 total touchdowns. As a freshman in 2014, he ran for 107 yards and a score against Penn before last season’s 279-yard, five-touchdown day.
“I don’t think you can stop him, just contain him,” Priore said of Edmonds. “They’re going to get their yards and you have to try to limit their explosive plays.”
The Quakers are looking for a noticeable improvement in play due to adjusting to the speed of the game after facing live competition for the first time. The Rams represent an important non-conference matchup before the Red and Blue travel to New Hampshire in a week to open their conference slate against Dartmouth.
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