After disheartening losses to non-conference opponents, a pair of Ivy League foes clash helmets tomorrow at Franklin Field.
And both the Penn Quakers and Columbia Lions hope an Ivy victory is just the remedy to forget last weekend's woes.
While Columbia's loss was just plain frustrating -- the Lions led Lafayette, 21-0, before giving up 28 unanswered points -- the Quakers' defeat was a case of playing an exceptional team. Sixth-ranked Villanova whitewashed the Quakers, 17-3, on a rainy Thursday night.
"Every game, I want to be near 100 percent throwing the ball," said Penn quarterback Mike Mitchell, who was 50 percent shy of his goal, completing 19 of 38 passes. "The bottom line is performance, and I didn't perform how I wanted to. I took that to heart, and we've come out to practice this week and really worked our butts off."
The Quakers are optimistic about re-entering the Ivy portion of their schedule and refuse to let last week's loss cloud their vision for the ultimate goal -- the Ivy League championship.
"Everyone's put the Villanova loss behind us. It's in the past," Penn safety Vince Alexander said. "We're just looking forward to Columbia. If we do what we have to do, we should come out with the win."
It might be a little tougher for the Lions to forget and move on. Last week's choke-job came on the heels of a devastating 35-32 Homecoming defeat to Princeton.
"That's what happened and we have to deal with it," Columbia coach Ray Tellier said. "I think we were surprised and a little shocked that we didn't have any answers."
And now the Lions, riding their tough-to-swallow three-game losing streak, travel to Philly to face a team that hasn't lost a game at Franklin Field since 1999. Needless to say, snapping the skid may take a Herculean effort.
"We get up for away games and home games, but you always like to defend your home turf," Alexander said. "We just don't lose at home."
The Quakers, however, are too knowledgeable and experienced to take any team lightly -- even if it is a team that has never won an outright Ivy League title.
"We're definitely going to try to take out some of our anger on them," Mitchell said. "But we got to come out and play -- we can't overlook Columbia. Everyone's got to play their game."
One player the Quakers should be particularly concerned with is Lions' quarterback Steve Hunsberger.
In his last two games, the junior signal-caller has completed 52 of 94 passes for 476 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Alexander, however, thinks that last statistic might change, if the Penn secondary sticks to its game plan.
"We're going to put a lot of pressure on him," said Alexander, who has a team-high three interceptions this season. "He's been sacked a lot. We should blitz a lot and that should help us out in the secondary said, so we should be able to pick off some [passes]."
While Hunsberger has led a formidable air attack, Columbia's rushing game has been virtually non-existent.
Averaging 116.3 yards per game on the ground, the Lions are sixth in the conference in rushing, one spot above none other than Penn.
The Quakers, who are averaging 103.4 yards per contest rushing, may shake things up in the backfield tomorrow, however.
Redshirt freshman Michael Recchuiti, a former local high school star at Dowingtown, took some snaps with the first team during Wednesday's practice. Recchuiti rushed for 56 yards on eight carries in mostly garbage time against Villanova.
Stephen Faulk, meanwhile, lined up in his former cornerback position toward the end of practice.
"Faulk and Recchuiti have both been getting time in practice," Mitchell said. "Both of them have their strong points and both are looking real good in practice. We'll see what happens [tomorrow]."Comments powered by Disqus
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