After the clock ran out on Penn's 45-28 victory over Lafayette on Saturday, the only remnants of fear were the sweat stains on the Quakers' washing-machine-bound uniforms. But a half-hour prior, Penn tight end Ben Zagorski's fear was a lot more tangible. The 38-7 lead upon which Penn (1-1) once stood was crumbling faster than a day-old chocolate-chip cookie. A pair of Quakers turnovers bunched between three Leopards touchdowns had cut the lead to just ten points. And here it was, third-and-six, still more than eight minutes remaining, Penn at its own 24-yard-line. Disaster loomed. But Zagorski wouldn't let that happen. Mike Verille set in motion. Lafayette (1-2) defensive coordinator John Loose called for a blitz. And the 6'7" tight end found himself open. So Penn quarterback Gavin Hoffman drilled a pass to Zagorski, who reeled it in for an eight-yard gain and a first down. More importantly, that catch set into motion a 12-play, 80-yard, six-minute drive that ended with a Hoffman-to-Doug O'Neill touchdown. And a much more stable 17-point lead. "It was just a big confidence-booster when we were down," Zagorski said of his key fourth-quarter catch. "It helped us get back into the game by killing the clock again, which was the most important thing." Prior to that drive, Lafayette had a firm grip on the clock and the momentum. The Leopards scored three touchdowns in seven minutes, 56 seconds as they tried to dislodge some stones from that mountainous 31-point Penn lead. Lafayette quarterback Chad Ritchie accounted for all three scores (two passing, one rushing) and 121 total yards in those drives. Ritchie, celebrating his birthday on Saturday, replaced Leopards starter Marko Glavic late in the second quarter and burned Penn in the third and fourth quarters repeatedly with draws and scrambles up the middle of the Quakers defense. But it was turnovers and penalties that really let Lafayette back into the game, nearly neutralizing what would have been a complete spanking by the Quakers. When things went right for the Penn offense, they really went right. The Quakers racked up 477 total yards, allowed no sacks and converted on 10-of-13 third down attempts. For the fifth time in eight games, Hoffman threw for 300 yards. And Verille filled in admirably for injured Kris Ryan at tailback, rushing for three touchdowns and 99 yards. But turnovers allowed the Leopards to take hammer and chisel to Penn's 31-point lead. Verille fumbled with 18 seconds left in the third quarter, giving the Leopards possession at the Quakers 39-yard line. And after Lafayette scored, Hoffman threw an interception that gave the Leopards the ball at the Penn 35-yard line. "I think we showed that we can move the ball, but I think that we need to cut down our penalties and cut down our turnovers," Hoffman said. Penalties -- these Quakers have not one, but two Achilles' heels. Penn committed 12 penalties -- including six personal fouls -- netting Lafayette 130 yards. And most of these penalties were on defense, where Penn was plagued with roughing the passer and offsides calls. "We can't expect to keep shooting ourselves in the foot and expect to hold them," Penn senior co-captain Dan Morris said. But Penn did hold Lafayette on Saturday. It was a tenuous hold -- especially when compared to the apparent chokehold the Quakers had the Leopards in at 38-7. But it was still a hold. And when the game ended, Penn had its first victory of the season in its pocket. News and Notes Penn's Steve Faulk had a 64-yard kickoff return in the second quarter on a handoff from teammate Kunle Williams... Lafayette coach Frank Tavani said that he considered an onside kick after cutting the deficit to 38-28 with 9:25 left ... Verille's three touchdowns were his first scores in five years -- since his senior year at Lake Highland (Fla.) Prep.Comments powered by Disqus
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