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Ed Cai, freshman who also runs hurdles on the track team

The game looked to be going all in Mansfield’s favor. But after a missed extra point by the Mountaineers in the third quarter, everything turned for the Red and Blue.

Down 13 points in the fourth quarter, Penn sprint football fought back, scoring two touchdowns to upend Mansfield, 14-13, in its season opener.

The Quakers had beaten Mansfield in their previous (and only) six contests, and Mansfield was looking to erase the pains of a 1-6 2013 campaign.

Under the lights and with the home crowd on its side, Mansfield ran the opening kickoff for a touchdown. After responding with a three-and-out, it looked like Penn may have been staring down a third straight loss to open a season.

But the Quakers didn’t let up.

“Our kids just continued to ... push at it, never stopped and never quit, and eventually in the fourth quarter we wore them down,” coach Bill Wagner said.

Penn came into the game led by sophomore quarterback Mike McCurdy, who helped the Quakers lead the league in passing offense last season. But after three quarters featuring little success on the offensive side of the ball, something had to give.

Wagner switched to a pistol setup with a fullback acting as an extra blocker. This opened up the running lanes for senior captain and running back Mike Beamish.

It was almost like a homecoming for Beamish, who grew up in Mansfield until he was 12 years old and whose Dad played football at Mansfield.

Though he knew a lot of family friends would be in the stands, Beamish tried to prepare for Saturday night as if it were just a normal game, but admitted that “obviously there were some nerves going into tonight.”

After seeing Mansfield run one back to start the game, Beamish noted that “one of the hardest things to do is [to try] to take the air out of a team after a big play like that.” And for three quarters, Penn failed to do so.

Penn managed to overcome the momentum and atmosphere in the fourth quarter. After Beamish established the run threat, McCurdy was able to utilize play action. And on the tails of Beamish’s 125 yards of offense and two fourth-quarter touchdowns, Penn was able to take the lead.

With Beamish making the difference on Saturday, Wagner complimented the senior, saying, “Beamish played his backside off.”

The running back even caught a huge pass to bring Penn to the goal line, setting up his first touchdown run in the fourth.

But with over a minute left to play following Beamish’s touchdown and McCurdy’s extra point, there was still plenty of excitement.

Mansfield was able to get a bit of a drive going at the end, but the defense held together. Junior lineman Ed Cai came in and had a huge sack, which just about closed the door on Mansfield. The Quakers’ sideline erupted after a failed hook-and-ladder ran out the clock.

“If you look at the stats the game was pretty much even,” Wagner said.

But experience and grit prevailed for the Red and Blue as they managed to get into the win column.

Beamish is now Penn’s fifth all-time leading rusher with over 2,000 yards.

“I didn’t know that but , that’s a pretty good feeling,” Beamish said before applauding his offensive line.

Penn prepares to take on Cornell at Franklin Field this Friday.

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