The season might not be over, but one thing is clear. Up until this point, Penn has been the best team in the Collegiate Sprint Football League.
But that distinction won’t mean anything if the Quakers can’t finish out the season strong.
For the Red and Blue (5-0), who already have wins over both service academies, the quest for perfection continues this Friday on senior night against Cornell (2-3). The Quakers enter the game as heavy favorites, but don’t expect the Big Red to give in easily. While Cornell has struggled against the CSFL’s better teams, their two victories over Mansfield and Post have both been by double digits.
For Penn’s defense, the key to stopping Cornell will be containing Big Red dual-threat quarterback Rob Pannullo. Through five games, the senior has been averaging nearly 50 rushing yards per game to go along with his 90 passing yards.
Offensively, Penn will try to build off its performance last week against Chestnut Hill. In that game, the Quakers lit the Griffins’ defense up for seven touchdowns en route to 53 points. Five of those touchdowns came from the arm of senior captain and quarterback Mike McCurdy, as he led the way with 339 total yards.
While McCurdy’s play was nothing short of spectacular, it was backup Edward Jenkins who might have opened the most eyes last week. Jenkins was not subbed in for McCurdy until the fourth quarter, but he was able to make a big impact in his limited playing time. In addition to completing two passes, the freshman showed off his running ability with four carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns.
So while the Red and Blue look set at quarterback with Jenkins for the next three years, don’t be mistaken. This is still McCurdy’s team. The reigning CSFL co-MVP has been even better this season. He needs only one more passing touchdown to match his 13 from last year and with 1,292 passing yards already, he is well on pace to reaching his 1,513 from a year ago.
“He’s a coach on the field,” Penn coach Bill Wagner said. “Obviously he’s the quarterback, so he’s in charge of the offense. And when the game’s going on, he helps all those kids. He directs them, and does a super job doing that. He probably knows everybody’s assignments on the team.”
Of course, every great quarterback also needs great teammates. And McCurdy has had that this year with a deadly wide-receiver unit led by Aidan Kelly, Andrew Sutton, and Marcus Jones, who have combined to catch 10 of McCurdy’s touchdowns.
“All three of them are really great vertical threats,” McCurdy said, “And in addition to Chaz [Augustini] coming in the offseason, you make four guys you have to take account of every play. So I think that’s really done wonders for me.”
After its game against Cornell, Penn will have only one more game this season against Post. If the Red and Blue are able to beat these final two squads, it will be the first time that Penn finishes the season undefeated since 2000. However, Penn needs only one more win to clinch a share of its first CSFL championship since 2010. And that isn’t something the Quakers are taking lightly.
“We got a championship to play for on Friday night,” Wagner said. “We’re ready to roll.”
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