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Photo: Sam Holland

Following two tough losses, Penn football has bounced back in the first half at Columbia.  

At halftime, the Quakers lead the Lions 14-7. In the third matchup between Penn coach Ray Priore and Columbia coach Al Bagnoli, the longtime Penn coach who retired in 2014 after 23 years in University City, the Quakers jumped out to a 14-0 lead on rushing touchdowns from senior quarterback Will Fischer-Colbrie and sophomore running back Karekin Brooks before the Lions ran one in for their own score.

The game has been dominated by defense so far, as Penn has managed just 158 yards to Columbia’s 135. The Red and Blue had three sacks, three tackles for loss, and an interception in the opening half, while Columbia generated enough pressure to disrupt a few of Fischer-Colbrie’s dropbacks. The senior closed the half 5-of-9 for 85 yards.

After trading punts, Penn took advantage of freshman linebacker Brian O’Neill’s first career interception, off Columbia quarterback Anders Hill, starting from the Columbia 37. It took them just five plays to find the end zone, with over half of the 37-yard drive coming on a reception by senior wide receiver Justin Watson taking the Quakers to the Columbia goal line. Fischer-Colbrie punched it in from two yards out.

Following the touchdown, the Red and Blue sacked Hill twice in the next three plays, forcing a three-and-out. The Quakers showed off their playmaking ability on the next drive, with junior wide receiver Steve Farrell gaining 29 yards on a catch-and-run to the Columbia 38 and junior tight end Logan Sharp breaking a bevy of tackles for 27 yards down to the Columbia 11. Brooks scored his sixth rushing touchdown of the season from five yards out on the first play of the second quarter.

After quiet drives for each team, the Lions put up their first points of the day with 6:27 remaining in the first half. Wide receiver Josh Wainwright found room and took a pass from Hill for 41 yards to the Penn 2. Columbia brought in wildcat quarterback Josh Bean, and the Quakers stuffed three consecutive Bean rushing attempts at the goal line. However, Bean forced it in on the fourth try to cut the Penn lead to 14-7.

The Quakers will receive the ball to open the second half.

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