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The Quakers fell to the Leopards 20-17 in 1OT. Lyle Marsh 26 RB is tackled by Kevin Doty 80 TE Credit: Alvin Loke

Lose your starting quarterback, and it’s probably time to start developing your backup to take his place.

But to lose your top three signal callers — especially in Philadelphia — may mean it’s time to hold an open tryout for hard-luck Italian bartenders.

Unless, of course, you have running back Lyle Marsh.

Penn (1-2, 1-0 Ivy) will rely heavily on Marsh and its ground game Saturday when it hosts Bucknell (3-2, 1-0 Patriot).

It’s not that the Red and Blue will be without a quarterback; he’ll just be inexperienced under center.

“As of right now, the starting quarterback is John Hurley,” Marsh said Wednesday, although coach Al Bagnoli contends that he is undecided between Hurley and senior Kyle Olson.

Hurley, a sophomore out of high school powerhouse St. Xavier in Cincinnati, didn’t play at all last season due to injury, and hasn’t even taken very many snaps in practice before this week.

“The rest of the team realizes that he may not do everything perfectly,” Marsh said. “He hasn’t gotten the reps that the other guys have.”

No one is bashing Hurley, although it might seem like it.

The fact is, he does not have the experience of Olson, Keiffer Garton or even freshman Billy Ragone, who played well against Dartmouth before breaking his collarbone.

Ragone’s season-ending injury is particularly tough — not only for him, but for the Quakers as well — because of the promise that he showed in his limited playing time.

“It’s bittersweet,” Ragone said of winning Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors thr week he was injured.

But he’s still confident in the team’s ability to pick up the passing game’s slack.

“[The running backs are] more than capable of carrying the load,” Ragone said.

All of these injuries, coupled with Hurley’s inexperience, make Marsh and Bagnoli’s other horsemen of the apocalypse all the more important.

“Lyle’s going to be an integral part of what we do,” Bagnoli said. “He will continue to get a lot of playing time.”

Marsh and his backfield colleagues seem ready for the extra burden to be placed on their shoulder pads.

Last week against Dartmouth, Penn’s running game combined for an astounding 288 yards on just 43 carries — a 6.3 yard per carry average.

Marsh put up 120 yards and junior Bradford Blackmon added a 55-yard-scamper that electrified the Quakers’ offense.

Potentially bad weather this Saturday will likely put even more onus on the Red and Blue’s ground attack.

Weather reports anticipate showers on Friday evening, continuing throughout the night and tapering off into overcast clouds just before the 1 p.m. kickoff.

A wet ball is difficult to throw, especially for an inexperienced quarterback with zero career snaps.

Add to that the fact that kicker Andrew Samson missed two rain-soaked 42-yarders against Lafayette and failed to connect twice more against Dartmouth, and it becomes obvious that Penn really doesn’t like playing in the rain.

“We would like at some point to play under nice weather conditions,” Bagnoli said, mentioning how rain affects kickers. “If [Samson] were not so accomplished, we probably would not even ask him [to kick such long field goals in the rain.]”

If the weather is not on Samson’s side again this weekend, Bagnoli will need to get in closer range to improve the kicker’s accuracy.

Indeed, if it’s a swamp, Bagnoli will need a marsh: Lyle.

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