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Turn Back the Clock | Al Bagnoli's first game as Penn football's head coach

On Saturday in Hanover, Al Bagnoli will be on the sidelines for his 221st game as Penn football’s head coach, this time against the Ivy-rival Big Green. 220 games ago, Bagnoli and the Quakers made the same trip to New Hampshire to take on a very different Dartmouth team.

Bagnoli’s first game as Penn coach began well but ended badly, as the Red and Blue fell, 36-17, to the defending champion Big Green.

In 1991 — the year before — Dartmouth was an offensive juggernaut, having averaged an impressive 28.3 points per game.

Bagnoli entered the program promising a new spread offense based on a one-back, four-wide receiver attack. With the new system, there was some hope that the Red and Blue would be able to increase their offensive production from the year before, but few expected that the Quakers would be able to keep up with the Big Green.

However, it was Penn’s new defensive system — designed by Bagnoli and then-defensive coordinator Mike Toop, both of whom worked together at Union College previously — that stole the show.

At least in the first half.

The Red and Blue’s defense dominated in a low scoring first half to start the season, shutting out the Big Green. One touchdown was good enough to give the Quakers a 7-0 lead going into halftime.

Once the third quarter started, though, it didn’t last long.

Penn then-quarterback Mike Barthlow got the second half off to an inauspicious start for the Quakers when he threw an interception on third down that was returned deep into Penn territory.

“I think the momentum changed with the interception,” Barthlow said. “I think we kind of got down on ourselves.”

The mistake proved to be the ignition that would get the Big Green offense going for the remainder of the game, as Dartmouth then-quarterback Jay Fiedler caught fire.

Two plays later, Fiedler was able to connect with wide receiver John Hyland for a 13-yard score, and it was all downhill from there for the Quakers.

When all was said and done, the Big Green torched the Red and Blue for 273 yards and 22 points in the third quarter alone. The sleeping giant had been awoken, and there was nothing that the Quakers could do about it.

“Obviously, it’s not the way you would want to script it,” Bagnoli said. “I’m not sure what went wrong after halftime … All of a sudden we stopped doing the things we were doing before.”

Fiedler’s efficiency in the second half was almost unheard of. He only threw the ball 11 times in that span, but he completed eight of them and tied an Ivy-record with five touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Barthlow wasn’t nearly as efficient, completing only 12 of his 33 total attempts.

The Quakers enter this weekend’s matchup with a different set of expectations, having defeated Dartmouth last year in a thrilling four-overtime contest.



Penn target Dalton Soffer commits to Loyola (Md.)

Penn basketball had been a finalist for Class of 2019 shooting guard Dalton Soffer, but Soffer has other plans.

Soffer, a California native and high school senior, has committed to Loyola (Md.), joining the Greyhounds next season. 

Coach Jerome Allen already has three guards lined up for his next class— Jackson Donahue, Jake Silpe and Morris Esformes — so Soffer's decision isn't a huge blow. Former Penn target Levan Alston Jr. committed to Temple today as well.

Small forward Jule Brown and power forward Collin McManus round out Allen's upcoming class. 



Red and Blue in Under Two | Penn football's 41-7 loss to Villanova

Missed the game last weekend? Want to rewatch the beatdown from Villanova? We've got you covered with the highlights of the 41-7 loss to the Wildcats. 



Penn Basketball Recruit Roundup | Sept. 29

Penn basketball already has a solid recruiting class for the Class of 2019 but coach Jerome Allen is not done yet. Let's check in on the world of high school basketball recruiting to see what Penn is up to...

Weisner Perez commits to Harvard, Connor Cashaw soon to follow? - Last week, Perez, a small forward from Morton High School (Ill.), committed to Harvard basketball after being recruited by many Ivy League schools, including Penn. The 6-foot-6 high school senior had received interest from every Ancient Eight school outside of Columbia and also had offers from other mid-majors. Ultimately, the pitch from the defending Ivy champions put the Crimson ahead of the other Ivies.

After Perez's commitment, all eyes turn to Cashaw, who is from nearby Adlai Stevenson High School (Ill.). Many people believe that the two will commit as a pair and Cashaw has an offer in hand from the Crimson. Cashaw also has drawn interest from many Ivy schools, and reportedly has an offer from the Red and Blue.

Levan Alston Jr. trims list to three, eliminates Penn - Alston, a high school senior combo guard from Haverford School (Pa.), cut his list of potential schools from six to three, taking the Red and Blue out of consideration. The 6-foot-3 guard is a top-100 recruit on ESPN.com and has received interest from a lot of local schools, including Temple. Alston's godfather is none other than Allen, who already has multiple guards committed to Penn for next season.

Dalton Soffer picks up offers from Penn and Seton Hall - Class of 2019 shooting guard Dalton Soffer had previously cut his list to just four schools, with Boston University, Loyola (Md.), Seton Hall and Penn making the list. Soffer, who is from California, took a couple unofficial visits last week and receiving offers from the Pirates and Quakers during his visits. He is expected to decide on a school in the next month or so.



Ivy League Roundup : Sept. 29

Senior running back Tyler Varga put the entire Ancient Eight on notice during the Elis' shocking win over Army on Saturday. He rushed for over 180 yards and scored five touchdowns. 

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While Penn football struggled against Villanova, the other seven Ivy League squads were in action to varying degrees of success. Let’s look at the rest of the Ancient Eight.

Yale shocks Army in overtime, 49-43 — Well, raise your hand if you saw this one coming. No one raising their hands? Good. This was a shocker. Yale became the first Ivy team since 1986 to beat an FBS opponent as Army came to the Yale Bowl to renew an old rivalry thanks to the Yale Bowl turning 100 this year. The Elis rallied from a 14-point deficit in the early second half to hang with the Black Knights before exchanging touchdowns in the late fourth quarter.

An Army missed field goal ended regulation and the Black Knights missed another one on their first drive in OT. From there, senior running back Tyler Varga, who rushed for 186 yards, scored his fifth touchdown to clinch Yale’s first win over Army since 1955. The Elis will play their first Ivy game on Saturday against Cornell.

Harvard defeats Brown, 22-14 — The Crimson were without starting senior quarterback Connor Hempel and were forced to go with junior QB Scott Hosch. However, the junior proved himself on Saturday evening, leading the Crimson from behind in the fourth quarter to win its first conference game of the year.

Hosch went 24-for-34 passing the ball, throwing for a touchdown and running for one later in the game. Paul Stanton ran for 120 yards on 12 carries while junior receiver Andrew Fischer made 12 receptions for 115 yards. The Crimson head to Georgetown next week while Brown will look to regroup against Rhode Island.

Princeton demolishes Davidson, 56-17 — This was the Princeton football we’ve come to expect after last year. The Tigers returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and never looked back. Senior quarterback Quinn Epperly ran for four touchdowns and was 15-for-18 passing, pacing a Princeton offense that simply could not be contained. Epperly accounted for 294 yards combined between passing and running, while Princeton’s offense accumulated more than 400 yards in total.

After a disappointing loss to San Diego last week, this win gives the Tigers momentum going into their first Ivy game next week against Columbia.

No. 4 New Hampshire takes down Dartmouth, 52-19 — This one was ugly, to say the least. The Big Green stood little chance against such a highly ranked opponent on the road and it showed after a close first quarter. Junior quarterback Dalyn Williams threw for two touchdowns but was limited to just 108 yards passing. Dartmouth will now face Penn in each squad’s first Ivy game.

Cornell falls to Bucknell, 20-7 — The Big Red have scored just 19 points on the season and Saturday against the Bison was not a shining offensive performance. Freshman quarterback Jake Jatis threw for a touchdown but also had two interceptions and just 102 yards throwing the ball. The Big Red continue to march past the Jeff Mathews era next week against Yale.

Columbia smacked down by No. 24 Albany, 42-7 — Have no fear Penn fans: there was an Ivy team with a worse loss on Saturday. Columbia scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter but by then, the Lions had already given up 35 points and were well on their way to defeat. They will ride a 13-game losing streak dating back to 2012 when they come home to face Princeton.



The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Penn football vs. Villanova

Sophomore quarterback Alek Torgersen and co. were unable to get anything going against Villanova other than a long run from senior running back Kyle Wilcox in the second quarter.

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After a quick first quarter drive by VIllanova, it became immediately clear there would be more Bad and Ugly for Penn football than Good.  The Quakers would go on to lose 41-7 to No. 6 Villanova in the team's home opener at Franklin Field. But out of every loss, there's usually some ounce of good - even in a game against a ranked team that serves more as demotivation than preparation.

The Good:

Well there weren't many positives for the Quakers, so let's focus on the one play that provided Penn a bulk of its offensive yards in the first half.  Kyle WIlcox's 67-yard run in the early second quarter came a bit too late (the Quakers were already down by 34), but it seemed to have the potential to start something for Penn.  A Torgersen fumble on Penn's next drive - which led to a quick Villanova touchdown - stifled any chance of a Penn comeback.

The Bad:

It's hard to pinpoint one area that was particularly worse than the rest of Penn's game.  Penn struggled on both sides of the ball, and though the special teams was strong for the most part, you can never win a game on special teams alone.  Penn gave up plenty of points early and seemed entirely unable to stop the Wildcats in the first half.  With the starters in during the first half, 'Nova put up all 41 of their points and put together 417 yards in just 46 plays.  The story was nearly the same for the offense, as turnovers and an inability to consistently move the ball doomed them from the start.

The Ugly:

The turnovers for Penn somehow came at the perfect times to kill any chance of momentum for the Quakers.  A Torgersen interception on Penn's first drive left the Quakers without a response to Villanova's early strike.  Factor in the afore-mentioned momentum killing fumble and Torgersen's second interception, which came on the first drive in the second half, and it was clear that Penn would be too mistake prone to put together long scoring drives.  The Quakers were over-matched to begin, but a few key mistakes made it worse than it needed to be.



Liveblog: Penn football vs. Villanova

Penn football takes on Villanova in its home opener. Follow along as we bring you the action live from Franklin Field 

Live Blog Penn football vs. Villanova
 


This Week on 33rd Street | Penn football vs. Villanova

Our Sports Editors discuss Penn football's upcoming matchup with Villanova and whether the Red and Blue can take down the No. 6 ranked Wildcats 



Why Villanova will beat Penn football | VUhoops.com's Brian Ewart

Junior quarterback John Robertson will look to lead Villanova this weekend to its 14th consecutive victory over Penn. He has been the starting QB for each of the last two wins.

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Welcome to a new feature to The Buzz called "Why Penn will lose." Each week, we will have a reporter who covers the opposing squad talk about why that team will beat Penn, giving you an introduction to Penn's upcoming foe. 

To start it all off, we have Brian Ewart of VUhoops.com explaining why he thinks Villanova will take down the football on Saturday. You can follow him on Twitter @Brian_Ewart or @VUhoops.

Why will Penn lose?

The easy answer to this question is, “because they haven’t won this matchup yet,” at least not since Andy Talley revived Villanova’s program from the dead in the mid-1980s. The Wildcats are a different sort of team from Penn, and the Quakers are definitely a different sort of team from the pre-Ivy teams that won five-straight against the ‘Cats (and later had a national TV deal with ABC). The goals are different, the money is different and the athletes are different.

That isn’t the say that Penn could run their sprint football team out of the locker room on Saturday and achieve the same effect, but the Wildcats look at Frisco, Texas for their season aspiration, while Penn will certainly finish their season in Ithaca.

Villanova’s John Robertson is one of the best college football players in the country, even playing with a broken hand and a hip pointer, he managed to impress last week. If you’ve paid any attention, you know that he can pick up yardage in big chunks with his legs, but he is also 4th in the nation for completion percentage. The offense also features Kevin Monangai, a powerful runner who can break-away if he can get into the open field, and Poppy Livers, a spark-plug slot receiver with good hands and a knack for finding a seam to move after the catch. This is one of the best offensive team’s Penn will play this season, and even though field goals are a bit of a crapshoot, they don’t usually need to rely on those.

What’s really impressive though, is the Villanova defense. They held Fordham to just 16 rushing yards and they’ve looked unstoppable at times. They rank 17th in the country against the run, though they are flawed against the passing game. Even that flaw is essentially a matter of maturity – young cornerbacks make mistakes – but they have the excessive speed to run their mistakes down and mitigate the damage.

The Wildcats’ defense will make Penn uncomfortable on Saturday. They will frustrate the Quakers’ running game and have the speed and playmaking ability to keep up with the passing game. When Penn scores, they can expect Villanova’s offense to answer with one of their own.

Penn should lose a game against a team that looks like it could be the best in the CAA and one of the best in the nation at this level. The Quakers haven’t been favored in this game in a long time, however, and too many of these games have been perilously close to a win for the Quakers. They should have won one of the last 13, in all honesty, but Villanova has pulled it out in the end every time.

This weekend is the end of a frustrating series for Al Bagnoli. I expect that he will have his team ready to pull out all the stops, and may just make the Wildcats look a little more pedestrian than they have looked otherwise.



Dion Waiters visits campus, meets with Penn's Brzozowski

Apparently, Cleveland Cavaliers star Dion Waiters made his way to campus earlier today to visit Penn Women's basketball.

The third-year guard was pictured with freshman guard Beth Brzozowski - a Cleveland area native.

The following was posted earlier by SMAC, an athletic club in the Cleveland area.

This isn't the first time Waiters has made his way to campus in the last few months.  Waiters grew up in Philadelphia and appears to return often.

Here's a video Waiters posted on his instagram at the Palestra a few weeks ago.



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