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Penn 28 Saelinger, Jonathan Princeton XX Credit: Toby Hicks

After losing so many close games despite playing solid football, the Penn defense was fed up.

In a grueling battle which saw both offenses struggle to find their rhythm, the Quakers' defense finally took control and delivered a win, shutting out Princeton, 7-0, at Franklin Field on Saturday.

"I think the difference was that quite frankly we were just tired of losing," senior nose guard Naheem Harris said. "We've been playing well, but today I think we were able to take it to another level, so that even when they hit big plays we were able to keep composure."

Princeton (3-5, 2-3 Ivy) threatened first with senior Greg Mroz under center, marching all the way down to the Penn four-yard line after a 66-yard monster run by senior running back Rob Toresco.

But when Princeton got close, Penn (3-5, 2-3) stopped Tigers sophomore running back Jordan Culbreath dead in his tracks on two attempts to reach the end zone. Mroz's next pass was tipped into the hands of Penn defensive back Britton Ertman for the interception at the goal line.

"They're physical, and they didn't show us anything that we didn't know they were going to do, so that's what's most frustrating," Toresco said. "We knew what they were going to do and we just couldn't run it up in there."

Senior running back Joe Sandberg again made the difference on offense for Penn, scoring the only points of the contest on a 26-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. With senior fullback Nick Cisler clearing his path through the front seven and senior wide receiver Braden Lepisto blocking downfield, Sandberg sprinted through the alley easily into the end zone.

He ended the day with 158 rushing yards on 30 carries and also led Penn's receiving effort with six catches for 54 yards.

"We knew they would put eight guys in the box and we had a couple of run plays to account for it," Quakers coach Al Bagnoli said. "We got lucky . we had some good down-field blocking, and that's what you have to do against a good defense. You have to be able to hit a home run every once in a while, and if you can do that you give yourself a chance to win."

When the dust settled, the defenses gave both teams every chance to win.

The Quakers made the most of their opportunities. While Penn converted six out of 19 third downs, the Tigers succeeded on just two of 15.

After missing last week's game with a concussion, Princeton quarterback Bill Foran was forced to play nearly every drive. Mroz, the second component of Princeton's dual quarterback system, took over duties under center for the one drive that brought the Tigers the closest they would get to scoring, but left the game with a concussion and did not return.

Wide receivers Brendan Circle and Will Thanheiser also left in the second quarter with injuries, leaving two freshmen receivers as Princeton coach Roger Hughes' only options in the second half.

"We kind of caught them at the right time," Bagnoli said. "I know their quarterbacks are a little bit banged up, and they came in at less than 100 percent, and our kids stepped up and they made plays when they had to."

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