Last Saturday, Holy Cross' Fitton Field played host to the flattest, least-inspired 60 minutes of Penn football in recent memory. After the Quakers rebounded this week with a 43-25 lambasting of Columbia, Penn kicker Jason Feinberg may have been the only one drawing a parallel between the Holy Cross game -- when Penn trailed 27-3 at the half -- and the '98 Brown game. That's right, that Brown game, the highest scoring in Ivy League history, the back-and-forth, 58-51 affair in which Penn racked up 538 yards of offense. While Feinberg may be the first to admit kickers can be "a little loopy," he may have something here. The senior, who with his third field goal Saturday broke Jeremiah Greathouse's career scoring mark for a kicker at Penn -- Feinberg has 172 points (32 field goals and 76 PATs) -- elaborated. "[It could be] a real wake-up call that says, OHey, you guys aren't that good -- You better come to play every Saturday or you'll get your butt kicked.'" Penn won four straight to finish the season after that Brown game, winning the Ivy title. This year's Quakers squad is waving off last week's embarrassment at Holy Cross, pointing to the Columbia win as a sign they're headed in the right direction. And unlike 1998, Penn (2-0 Ivy League) still has the benefit of a perfect league record. "This is the real Penn team," Gavin Hoffman said, referring to the Quakers squad with a 3-0 home record, the team that sits atop the Ivy standings. Last week, Hoffman was sent to the bench in the third quarter. On Saturday, the "real" Hoffman's perfect 8-of-8 passing fueled a 15-minute, four-second stretch to open the second half in which the Quakers turned a 23-19 ballgame into a 40-19 runaway. If Penn has put Holy Cross in the past, it would be a sure sign of maturity, a buzzword around Franklin Field lately. "We're dealing with a very young football team," said Penn coach Al Bagnoli, whose team graduated 13 starters last year. "If we're a bunch of mature guys," Feinberg said, "we get off the bus, play to our ability and we beat Holy Cross." € Feinberg wrote off the Holy Cross game, citing that the Ivy League keeps its football teams out of the I-AA playoffs. "It's important to get up for every game, but to be honest, it's hard to get up for a game where you drive for six hours, get off the bus and play what's basically an exhibition game," Feinberg said. But Holy Cross, playing at home, on homecoming, and with a chance to improve to 4-1, skied to the occasion. How, then, do you explain the Crusaders' 31-14 loss at Dartmouth Saturday -- the first win of the season for the Big Green, a team that lost to Penn 48-14 two weeks ago? There is no logical explanation. Same goes for Yale's 24-17 win over hapless Fordham. And don't get the Swamis started on the Ivy League action at Princeton this week, where David Splithoff -- marking the first start by a freshman at quarterback in Tigers history -- led a 1-3 Princeton team to a 27-point thumping of previously 3-1 Brown. "There's six teams, seven teams who are pretty good," Columbia coach Ray Tellier said on the Ivy League's inexplicable parity. "You never know." Bagnoli had a more succinct explanation. "This is the most screwed up league in the world," he said, shaking his head as he walked away from the press conference. € With Columbia leading 6-0 six minutes into the game, Hoffman hit Colin Smith over the middle for a 14-yard pickup. And all 6,100 fans at Franklin Field held their collective breath -- because when the dust cleared, Kris Ryan was down, being tended to by the trainers. Ryan, the most impressive and imposing running back in the league last year, entered the Columbia game at full strength for the first time all season after suffering a left high-ankle sprain in the preseason. Now Ryan is on crutches once again, this time with a strained knee. His status is questionable. "It just breaks everyone's heart to see Kris go down," Feinberg said. "He worked so hard to get back from that ankle, and you can see how much it kills him not to be playing." It's disheartening to say the least for Penn to lose Ryan. "Our kids were really looking forward to Kris getting back," Bagnoli said. "I think they were jacked up to have Kris in the backfield." Rather than raise the white flag, though, Penn's passing game stayed sharp and the defense shut down the Lions in the second half. The Quakers offensive line held together better than it had all season. Mike Verille and Todd Okolovitch platooned to fill in admirably on Saturday -- especially considering Verille missed last week's game with pneumonia. Verille picked up 97 yards on 26 carries, while Okolovitch gained 61 yards on nine rushes; each player scored a rushing touchdown.Comments powered by Disqus
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