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The Quakers fell to the Leopards 20-17 in 1OT. Credit: Alvin Loke

Say what you will about coach Al Bagnoli’s questionable calls for quarterback keepers, Penn’s porous defense and inept offense in the first half or the multiple dropped interceptions by the Quakers’ secondary.

The fact of the matter is, the Red and Blue did what it had to do to tie Lafayette at 17 and send the game into overtime.

But that is where Bagnoli and offensive coordinator Jon McLaughlin committed their greatest faux pas of the game: putting kicker Andrew Samson in an untenable position.

After winning the coin toss in overtime, the Quakers started at their opponent’s 25-yard line, knowing that the Leopards would get the exact same opportunity.

With cold rain beating down, McLaughlin called quarterback Kyle Olson’s number three times in a row, resulting in three incomplete passes.

Samson was forced to tee up a 42-yard attempt on a wet field, with a wet ball and facing a seemingly infinite distance to the uprights.

Predictably, he missed. Then Lafayette took the ball, ran it down to the 10-yard line and kicked an easy field goal to win.

At least Bagnoli admits he put his usually sure-footed kicker in a bind.

“Those [type of field goals] aren’t considered short unless you’re in the NFL,” Bagnoli admitted.

Well, considering that Samson is not an NFL kicker (and probably won’t be), it’s more than a little unfair to put the game on his shoulders without any support.

Still, Bagnoli claimed confidence in Samson’s abilities at that juncture.

“He’s perfectly capable ovwf doing it,” Bagnoli contended. “He’s done it in the past.”

Unfortunately for Bagnoli, the past is not a 42-yarder in the pouring rain.

With the game on the line.

After having missed a 42-yarder earlier in the game (before the rain picked up).

That field goal would be difficult for any college kicker, let alone one likely experiencing deja vu after a nearly identical try.

Bagnoli recognizes this fact.

“We had to do a better job in overtime of getting the ball down there and making it a little bit more of a point-blank attempt,” Bagnoli said. “Like [Lafayette] did.”

So why didn’t they?

Why did the Quakers attempt three straight passes in overtime?

Why didn’t they use Lyle Marsh?

A true freshman running back from Bethel Park, Pa., Marsh had been making the Leopards his own personal Washington Generals.

Cutting through the rain with powerful legs and deadening stiff-arms, Marsh picked up an astounding 85 yards — 5.7 yards per carry — on just 15 carries.

He broke a 30-yard run to set up the Red and Blue’s tying score in the third quarter, and continually showed why he was a recruiting coup.

Even Lafayette coach Frank Tavani noticed, not that he could avoid it.

“He is a handful,” Tavani said. “That kid’s a beast. It will be difficult having to tackle him for three more years.”

So, with weather conditions that are not conducive to passing and a stud running back in their stable, Bagnoli and McLaughlin chose to throw the ball.

Wait, hold the phone. The most explosive runner in the game is having a coming-out party, all you need is a few yards to make it a much easier field goal, and you pass?

Three times in a row?

It seems like the players learned from their first-half mistakes, but apparently Bagnoli did not.

Eli Cohen is a sophomore philosophy major from Washington, D.C. His email address is

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