In its first 53 meetings with Navy, the Penn sprint football team was victorious four times. The Quakers are certainly bucking that historical trend; they have now won three in a row over the Midshipmen, putting themselves in the catbird's seat of the Collegiate Sprint Football League title hunt with a 28-27 overtime triumph on Friday night at Rip Miller Stadium in Annapolis, Md. Neither team ever led by more than eight points in the back-and-forth affair, as Navy (2-2, 1-1 CSFL) became the first team to score on the Quakers (3-0, 1-0) all season long. The Red and Blue had shut out Cornell and Princeton to open their campaign, but knew that they were facing much stronger competition in the Midshipmen, one of the league's perennial powerhouses. "We believed that we could beat this team," Penn senior linebacker Mike Viney said. "I don't think anybody thought that Navy was better; we just thought that we deserved the win and could get it at all costs." The victory came at a particularly steep cost in the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback John Kernan, who had already thrown for two touchdown passes in the game, broke his jaw, and is expected to miss the remainder of the season. Kernan was replaced by freshman Jim Donapel, who led the Quakers on the overtime drive that culminated in a Mark Gannon touchdown run and the eventual Penn victory. "When our starting quarterback went down in the fourth, people thought it was pretty much over," Viney said. "But Jim Donapel came in and stayed cool and collected and drove down the field and gave everyone a lift." Donapel was 4-for-6, passing for 60 yards and running for 22 more on four carries. Most importantly, the freshman avoided throwing an interception in the crucial late stages of the game. He was certainly helped by Gannon's presence in the backfield. The sophomore workhorse took the ball 33 times and ran for 102 yards on the night, including Penn's last two touchdowns of the game. The Quakers took an early 7-0 lead when Kernan connected with Jeff Bagnoli on a 31-yard scoring strike. Navy got on the board in the second quarter, but Penn answered in the third, extending the lead to 14-6 when Kernan hit Scott Moore for a 20-yard touchdown pass. But the Midshipmen would not go away quietly on their own home field. In the fourth quarter, Navy quarterback Steve Troy hit Ben Wilson on touchdown passes from 15 and 23 yards out. The Midshipmen converted a two-point conversion and an extra point to storm to a 21-14 lead. Gannon's first touchdown run with 3:07 remaining in the game brought Penn to within a point. Chris Caputo's extra point tied it at 21. Caputo's kicking game was crucial to the Penn victory, as he went 4-for-4 on extra point attempts. It was again important in overtime, when Caputo converted the point after Gannon's second touchdown. When the Midshipmen answered with a touchdown of their own, Ian Duncan missed the extra point, ending the game in most disappointing fashion for the hosts, and once again signaling the power shift that the league has undergone. "The past 20 years, Army and Navy dominated totally," Viney said. "Now it's basically Penn and Army, so it's a totally different league." Penn has three games still to play this season -- after traveling to Cornell this week, the Quakers will host the Cadets in what should be equivalent to the CSFL title game. Penn will close with a home game against Princeton, which it blanked in a pre-league game last week. Penn took the loss of its unblemished defensive record in stride. "We were expecting to give up one touchdown," Viney said. "I didn't think we'd give up four. I think we reacted pretty well.... We've got to be able to give back a touchdown and come back and not expect to shut every team out."Comments powered by Disqus
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