Penn football faced Villanova for just the second time since 1911 back in 1999 and the results didn’t turn out quite like the Quakers would have hoped. -
It seems pretty commonplace nowadays.
Early on every season, Penn football takes on Villanova and — at least every time within recent memory — it loses.
However, it wasn’t all that long ago that the two teams playing was far from a familiar occurrence.
A little less than 15 years ago on Sept. 25, 1999, the Quakers and Wildcats decided to rejuvenate a Big 5 rivalry that had lain dormant for the previous 19 years.
Anticipation was high for the matchup, as special $5 ticket prices and a late 5 p.m. Saturday start time facilitated a crowd tallying well over 20,000.
“Even when you get 10,000 people in this stadium, it looks like there’s no one here,” then-Penn linebacker Jim Hisgen said. “So it’s just nice to see a lot of people cheering for you.”
The Red and Blue may have waited a long time for the matchup, but once the game started, it couldn’t end fast enough for the Quakers.
Penn — which was previously 5-1 against Villanova — was run straight off of Franklin Field by the opposing Wildcats, losing handily, 34-6.
The Quakers hung in there for a quarter, staying within three points of their opponent, but after that, it wasn’t close.
Ranked No. 14 in Division I-AA football, this was a different Villanova team than the Quakers were accustomed to facing historically.
The Wildcats had a lot of athleticism out on the edges of the field, and they made it very evident throughout the game.
“There was a significant speed differential at the skill positions, both in their secondary versus our receivers and their receivers versus our secondary,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli — now in his final season — said. “I think we would’ve done OK if they’d tried to run the ball 30, 40, 50 times.”
Villanova parlayed these advantages into an absolute clinic in the passing game.
Wildcats quarterback Chris Boden broke his own school-record with 424 yards in the air off of 33-for-43 passing.
“We have a ton of weapons,” Boden said. “We’re just waiting to use them all.”
Meanwhile, Penn’s offense was overwhelmed by the athleticism present on the other side of the ball. Then-quarterback Gavin Hoffman was limited to a meager 108 passing yards off of only 7.7 yards per catch.
The Quakers did manage to retain possession of the ball for 28 minutes, but they simply did not have the firepower to compete with the Wildcats.
Since then, Penn has played Villanova nearly every season and has failed to win any of these matchups. In fact, Penn hasn’t beaten Villanova since 1911.
Freshman punter Hunter Kelley had a strong first week, punting six times while averaging 42 yards per punt. He beat out fellow-freshman Brock Elmore for the punting position during the preseason. -
A few weeks ago, Penn football didn’t even know who its starting punter was going to be.
Now, it just may have a keeper.
Playing in his first game after being named the starter, freshman Hunter Kelley was named Ivy Rookie of the Week for his debut performance against Jacksonville on Saturday.
Forced to punt six times on a rainy, sloppy afternoon, Kelley averaged 42 yards per punt, and pinned the Dolphins inside their 20-yard line twice. Two of Kelley’s punts travelled longer than 50 yards, including one 58-yard effort.
Last year, punters Max Kurucar and Donald Panciello combined to average only 36.8 yards per kick, and only three of their punts were longer than 50 yards.
It’s early, but the Red and Blue just may have found their punter of the future if Kelley can keep this up.
The season is just on its way for Penn football. Come in live to Jacksonville as we bring you the action
Can Penn football take down Jacksonville? Our editors debate
Welcome back to Haiku Corner, a place where Penn Athletics' upcoming weekend is summarized three lines at a time.
Flight to Florida
Bagnoli ready to go
Eyes on Torgersen
Sets Quakers back a little
Temple is up next
Forget loss to Tribe
Penn has many injuries
Sawczuk plays near home
Ivy play begins now
Penn looks to its strong attack
Weisenfels keeps on
Wagner's season starts
McCurdy and Beamish lead
Mansfield on live stream
Back from Golden State
Red and Blue morale quite high
Big 5 comes to Penn
While Penn has a
strong set of captains (just look at the front cover) to lead the team
in 2014, there are plenty of players and position groups with something
to prove. Across offense, defense and special teams, the Quakers will
look to shore up a few spots in order to compete with an Ivy title.
After all, if any part of Penn’s team appears to be weak, the rest of
the Ivy League will look to exploit said weakness. Our editors debate
which position group has the most to prove.
Sports Editor Ian Wenik: I’m
going to come out and say that the secondary has plenty to prove. Last
year, I wrote a story for our supplement talking about how a plethora of
veterans in the defensive backfield was going to shut down the rest of
the Ivy League. What did Penn’s pass defense promptly do? It surrendered
240.7 yards per game, a middling fifth-best in the conference. The
Quakers let their opponents complete 62.7 percent of their passes, the
third-worst mark in the Ancient Eight.
has plenty of talent returning in its secondary — fifth-year seniors
Dan Wilk and Evan Jackson, just to name a few — but it’s a long way back
to the top for a secondary that helped Penn win an Ivy title just two
Senior Sports Editor Steven Tydings:
It’s tough to say anybody but the kickers. Special teams can be a
thankless job and fall under the radar, but it is extremely important to
any team’s success. In 2012, it seemed like whenever Penn needed a
clutch kick, then-sophomore Connor Loftus was there to make it, especially during the Quakers’ 20-17 homecoming win against Brown.
last season was different as the Red and Blue went 4-for-13 on field
goals, setting themselves back in multiple games. While junior Jimmy
has impressed during camp, we will have to see whether he can get the
job done within games. If he struggles or gets hurt again, Loftus or
sophomore Aron Morgan could get a few reps at the all-important
Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: I
think a young and inexperienced offensive line is going to have the
most to prove. The Quakers are fielding a group with a combined five starts between them last season, and they graduated a core group of veteran linemen, including first-team All-Ivy center Chris Bush.
Penn had a strong offensive performance last season against Cornell —
when three of this year’s projected starters made starts — this group is
definitely one of the largest question marks for coach Al Bagnoli.
Bagnoli even said so during the Ivy League preseason media
teleconference. Every strong offensive performance starts in the
trenches, and if this group can’t find a way to protect sophomore
quarterback Alek Torgersen, it’ll be a long season for the Quakers.
Sports Editor Colin Henderson: I couldn’t agree more, Holden. The offensive line is a serious question mark. But what about the man that they will be tasked with protecting?
has approximately one quarter’s worth of play under his belt. Lighting
up Cornell in a relief role at the end of a season is one thing, but
taking the reigns of Penn’s offense is quite another. Granted, he seems
to bring a downfield passing threat that, paired with Penn’s deep squad
of receivers, could be deadly, but with an inexperienced line in front
of him, can he handle the pressure?
He certainly doesn’t have the type of mobility that
Billy Ragone had, which could make Penn’s questions on the line even
more significant. Ragone also set a pretty high mark for Penn
quarterbacks, contributing to three Ivy League championship teams. We’ll
see if Torgersen can live up to those types of expectations and have a similar level of success.
Then-junior Sam Mathews had a career day when Penn football visited San Diego in 2004, scoring three touchdowns and rushing for over 100 yards. -
Penn football will leave the friendly confines of the Northeast for the first time in 10 years, heading to the humid metropolis of Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday.
The last time the Quakers ventured out of the Northeast was 10 years ago, a trip that was extremely successful to say the least.
To kick off the 2004 season, the Red and Blue faced off against San Diego, making a cross country flight before taking the field. Penn came in with a 16-game winning streak dating back to 2002, as the squad was two-time defending Ivy League champions.
The Toreros had a former NFL quarterback as their first-year head coach with Jim Harbaugh – now the coach of the San Francisco 49ers – patrolling the sidelines. But his NFL background wouldn’t be any help that day as Penn trounced San Diego, 61-18.
Sixty-one points scored was Penn’s most points in a game since joining the Ivy League in 1956, and the most points allowed by San Diego in a game since 1956 as well. The Quakers’ devastating attack was led by then-junior running back Sam Mathews, who scored a career-high three touchdowns and added 152 total yards.
“He was terrific,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli said of Mathews. “He is definitely one of the marquee players in our league, and I think you can see why if you watch him. He does everything for us.”
Mathews wasn’t the only Red and Blue running back to reach the century mark, as Duke transfer Von Bryant had 111 yards on just five carries. Penn ended the day with 325 yards on the ground and 494 yards overall in a shocking offensive display.
Surprisingly enough, San Diego led in time of possession despite a 26-0 deficit at halftime. The Toreros’ four turnovers and inability to stop Penn’s ground game ultimately did them in.
“They’re a physically overpowering force, and they could stop the run,” Harbaugh said of Penn.
Under Bagnoli, Penn has recruited many players from the California area, so the trip was particularly nice for those players returning home.
“We’ve got a lot of players from California and they were really excited to play in front of their people who usually have to travel all the way out from California,” Mathews said.
Penn would have its 17-game winning streak snapped a week later by local rival Villanova. The Quakers would also not be able to repeat atop the Ancient Eight, as future NFL quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and Harvard would hand them their only Ivy loss.
On the other side of the ball, Harbaugh had a bright future in sunny San Diego. His Toreros would win their final five games of the year before back-to-back 11-1 seasons in 2005 and 2006.
Harbaugh would parlay those results into the head coaching job at Stanford, where he worked until joining the 49ers.
Penn football is getting its season started this weekend on Saturday in a nonconference tilt against Jacksonville, but some of us are already looking ahead to Ivy play. Sports Editors Ian Wenik and Holden McGinnis debate which Ancient Eight rival poses the biggest threat to the Quakers this year.
Sports Editor Ian Wenik: This is an easy one. It’s Princeton. The Tigers dealt the death blow to the Quakers last year when they came back from a 16-0 deficit to win on Homecoming, 38-26, and they’re just as much of a threat this time around. Sure, defensive tackle Caraun Reid is in the NFL now, but Princeton returns players like two-time first-team All-Ivy selection Anthony Gaffney at corner and 2013 second-team All-Ivy selection Mike Zeuli at linebacker. Their defense won’t miss a beat.
Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: While we’re on the topic of experienced defenses, how about Harvard? Princeton came away with the win against Harvard, 51-48, in three overtimes, but the Crimson pose just as serious a threat. While Harvard graduated a number of All-Ivy players in one of its strongest senior classes in recent memory, they still return dynamic players up and down their roster.
Senior defensive lineman Zach Hodges will pose an even more serious threat to the aforementioned inexperienced offensive line of the Quakers. Meanwhile, the secondary is anchored by senior defensive back Norman Hayes, Harvard’s sole captain. The Crimson still have a strong offense, led by senior quarterback Conner Hempel and junior running back Paul Stanton. Barring injury, they’ll pose serious issues for the Quakers in all phases of the game.
IW: I think that the Tigers have a thing or two to say about offensive firepower. Quinn Epperly is still Princeton’s quarterback, and who could forget his NCAA record-setting performance against Cornell, when he completed 29 passes in a row? Epperly fully deserved to be named Ivy Offensive Player of the Year last season. My only concern is that he’s lost his favorite target, wide receiver Roman Wilson, to graduation. Who will take his place? It might be one of the Tigers’ two main senior wideouts — Seth DeValve or Matt Costello.
Making matters easier for Epperly is that he has running back DiAndre Atwater in the backfield once again — Atwater averaged a solid 4.7 yards per carry last year. Outside of the question mark of No. 1 receiver, I don’t really see a major hole in Princeton’s depth chart. Do you see any weakness in Harvard?
HM: For Harvard, it’s a pretty similar situation in terms of weakness. The Crimson lost their top two receiving targets in wide receiver Ricky Zorn and tight end Cameron Brate. However, they retain most of their other offensive weapons, primarily Stanton and junior wide receiver Andrew Fischer. Hempel has plenty of weapons for his senior campaign and should be able to put up similar numbers to their third-best passing offense last season.
Verdict: It’s a draw as both are daunting competitors to the Red and Blue.
You missed Haiku Corner, didn't you? The Buzz's signature poetry feature returns, previewing a fun weekend in Penn Athletics
Quakers head out west
Shake memory of Blue Hens
Face number one Stanford
Soccer in Seattle
Poplawski and Schott come home
Try to keep winning
Playing to a draw
Chevtchenko finds back of net
Next up is the Tribe
Fairfield comes to Penn
Quakers showing some true grit
Weisenfels in goal
Start of the season
Cross country takes on Big 5
Villanova top test
Jacksonville is near
King and co. quite excited
Freshmen ready as well
For anyone in the University City area, Penn women's soccer's match tonight against St. Francis has been moved up to 6 PM due to inclement weather in the area later tonight.
The game was originally scheduled for 7 PM. Penn comes into the match with a 2-0 record after two close wins last weekend. The match will be played at Rhodes Field and will be available on the Ivy League Digital Network.
The Quakers play on Sunday as well at 2:30 against William & Mary, also at Rhodes Field.
Here is our preview of Penn's weekend matches.