Two undefeated teams enter. Only one will come out.
Those are the stakes for the Saturday night sprint football showdown at Franklin Field between Penn and Army West Point.
“Army is always a tough task,” said Penn coach Bill Wagner. “Historically, they are a strong, physical football team, and they’ve gotten off to a great start [this year].”
The seven o’clock matchup under the lights of Franklin Field will be the Quakers’ home opener, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
“It’s always good to come back to Franklin Field,” Wagner, in his 48th year at the helm for Penn, said. “We’re coming off those two [road] wins, so we feel good to be in this situation, to be playing at home.”
Penn is hoping to achieve a repeat result of last season’s defensive battle against the Black Knights, in which the Quakers handed Army its first loss of the season.
Another win versus the Black Knights would also extend Penn’s current winning streak to 11 games. The last time the Quakers felt the agony of defeat was when they came up just short to Army in a 16-13 double-overtime thriller at West Point in 2015.
The Quakers will try to avoid a similar ending, and one reason they might be able to is the stellar play of running back Jake Klaus. Through Penn's two games, the junior tailback has racked up 182 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while adding 110 yards and one touchdown receiving.
As Klaus mentions, however, he is far from a one-man wrecking crew.
“I pretty much attribute everything to this [offensive] line. [Quarterback] Eddie [Jenkins] is doing really great, too, with the passing game, and he’s also a threat in the running game. So basically with that combination of the line and Eddie and the whole offense working together, we’ve been doing well.”
Penn’s offense will need to be razor-sharp on Saturday, however, as they are stacking up against a defensive unit that has yet to give up any points this season.
“We’ve been watching film, and they’re pretty tough,” Klaus added. “But if we just execute and do as well as we can, I think we’ll be alright.”
Wagner similarly emphasized the importance of execution.
“We have to play a flawless game, with no turnovers and minimal penalties.”
He even hinted that the crowd at Franklin Field might see some extra football late Saturday night.
“I think that it’ll be a hard, physical football game, and it could go more than four quarters — who knows.”
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