VILLANOVA, Pa., Sept. 22 - Things went from bad to worse, and then from worse to much, much worse.
By the end of the night, the Penn quarterback combination of Robert Irvin and Bryan Walker had thrown a total of seven interceptions to hand Villanova a 34-14 win, their seventh in a row in this series.
It was enough to make last week's Lafayette debacle fade into oblivion, replaced by a more depressing contest.
Irvin finished 15-of-27 on the night for a total of 155 passing yards and coughed up five intercepted passes.
The junior struggled to read Villanova's quick defense that, in the end, put just enough pressure on Penn's hurry-up offense to cause it to break down in the second half.
"We may have to go back to square one, really simplify things," coach Al Bagnoli said. "Maybe not release as many people as we're releasing on pass plays, and restrict it to just half the field and restrict it to just one side or the other or the primary guy just so we can protect the ball better."
The Quakers' running game sputtered with senior running back Joe Sandberg out due to a hamstring injury. Backup Kelms Amoo-Achampong ran for a net loss of two yards.
Walker - the backup quarterback - was the team's leading rusher on the day.
Senior wide receiver Braden Lepisto shouldered most of the load on offense with 11 catches for 123 yards, but the rest of the production came from some unlikely sources.
On the first drive of the game, Irvin connected with sophomore wide receiver Kyle Derham for the touchdown to give Penn an early lead.
Villanova failed to score on the next drive but snatched back possession quickly when Irvin threw an interception on the first pass of the next drive.
The first of many.
"I think tonight the difference was that they just handed it back to us too many times," Villanova coach Andy Talley said. "They just continued to give us opportunities to make some big plays, and we did."
Most of those plays came in the second half, blowing away Penn's halftime lead.
"We came in the locker room completely high off the first half and we were executing and they were doing exactly what we expected them to do," Lepisto said. "Then just a couple of untimely turnovers kills momentum and it's tough to bounce back from that."
When Penn didn't step up in the second half, Villanova did.
Senior wide receiver Phil Atkinson caught two of junior quarterback Antwon Young's three touchdown passes in the second half, including an athletic 47-yard catch on third down to give Villanova a decisive lead.
The lone bright spot for the Quakers came from a defense that found itself on the field frequently and worked tirelessly to give the offense a chance.
Penn limited Villanova to just 4-of-14 on third-down conversions while containing the team's explosive running game and keeping the Wildcats' running game in check, even though Young was often able to break free.
But the offense kept coming back empty-handed.
"Obviously something's wrong, we're not hitting on all cylinders, and you can't do that anywhere, never mind a good team on the road," Bagnoli said. "You give yourself no chance to win, and today we gave ourselves absolutely no chance to win."Comments powered by Disqus
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