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Sprint Football vs. Cornell September 27 2014 Credit: Ilana Wurman , Ilana Wurman, Ilana Wurman

For the second straight week, Penn sprint football started out slowly, allowing an opening-drive touchdown.

However, on Friday against Cornell, they responded a whole lot quicker and with a whole lot more firepower than last week en route to a 36-19 victory .

It took the offense some time to get in rhythm. But with four seconds left in the first quarter, senior running back Mike Beamish broke out a long 50-yard run. After junior running back Charles Cato finished the job by punching the ball into the end zone to cut the Cornell lead to two, there was no looking back.

“Every game it takes me a little bit to get used to the defensive fronts and schemes,” Beamish said.

But once he got a handle of the Big Red defense, he busted out for 149 rushing yards, bringing him to third on Penn’s all-time rushing list.

Three minutes after Penn (2-0) scored, a tipped pass led to an interception for the Red and Blue. And just like that, Penn was on the march again.

Sophomore quarterback Mike McCurdy delivered the go-ahead score on a 34-yard floater to sophomore wide receiver Mario del Cueto, who came down with the ball by making a spectacular diving catch, putting the Quakers up, 13-8.

Penn’s defense responded in kind with a goal line stand, barely holding off Cornell (1-1). On Cornell’s next drive, the sophomore defensive back Robert Diorio picked up the ball off a Big Red fumble and ran 38 yards for the score with 4:43 left in the second to take a 19-11 lead.

Despite finishing off the play, Diorio refused to take all the glory for his big touchdown.

“We work on scoop and scores every day in practice and it finally paid off,” he said. “But credit goes to whoever forced that fumble.”

The Quakers kept the pressure up in the second half, stopping a Cornell fourth-down try five minutes into the third. And again, as was the story all night for Red and Blue , the offense utilized the momentum of a big defensive play.

This time, McCurdy’s passing game set up Beamish’s first score of the night to put Penn up 18 with nine minutes to play.

While Cornell would eventually find a hole in the Penn defense with a touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter, the Quakers quickly responded and closed the door with another huge play. McCurdy connected with junior wide receiver Jack Epstein for a 56-yard hook up, setting up one last touchdown run for Beamish.

After the game, coach Bill Wagner and the players focused on Penn’s resiliency after early adversity. Junior offensive lineman Donnie Kneisel pointed out that “the game had a similar feel to last week,” when the Quakers trailed Mansfield early only to pull off a win at home.

The Red and Blue are already looking forward to their matchup with Navy on Oct. 4, a squad that defeated Penn, 34-14, last season.

“It will be a tough game,” Wagner said. “You have to beat one of the service academies to win this league, and Navy is on the schedule first.”

Beamish, on the other hand, was a little more excited.

“There’s nothing anyone on this team wants more than to beat Army and Navy,” he said. “And I think we got a shot, we’re gonna do this.”

Maybe it’s not quite a guarantee, but Beamish and the Quakers surely look hungry and optimistic heading into next Saturday’s game at Franklin Field.

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