For Penn sprint football's seniors, Friday was a night to remember.
In their final regular season game, the Quakers took down Mansfield by a score of 35-13. The game also doubled as Senior Night, as Penn (6-1, 4-0 CSFL South) honored each of its nine seniors before kickoff.
After beating Navy last weekend to secure the Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) South Division title, the game this weekend had no implications for the postseason. Regardless of the outcome, Penn was set to take on Army next week in the championship. But as the last home game in the seniors' careers, there was still plenty left to play for.
The game actually started off very poorly for Penn, as Mansfield (1-6, 1-3) jumped out to an early 13-0 lead in the first quarter. With freshman quarterback Joshua Trybus getting the start and several players hurt or getting the night off, the Quakers struggled offensively at first, with their first two drives ending in a turnover on downs and a fumble respectively.
"I think we came in overlooking them a little too much, I think on both sides of the ball," senior wide receiver Marcus Jones said. "I think our timidness in different positions, that we didn't have our starters in... I think it took a while to adjust, for some of our players."
The Red and Blue started to turn things around though and got on the board with just six seconds left in the quarter, courtesy of a touchdown run from junior running back Jake Klaus. This drive proved to be the kick-start that the Quakers needed, setting off a stretch of five touchdowns in eight drives.
Penn ultimately took the lead for good with 5:36 left in the second quarter on a five-yard run from Trybus. The offensive highlight of the night was a 72-yard TD bomb from Trybus to freshman Alex Fruhbeis. The touchdown was the first career passing score for Trybus and receiving TD for Frubeis.
The contribution from many different players was something that gave the team a lot of confidence heading into next week's matchup.
"It was huge. We made a note of it at half time, and at the end of the game, just to our players. It showed the resiliency that some of our young players have," Jones said.
Despite the early miscues, Penn's defense came back to put together a very strong overall performance. The Quakers finished the game with six forced turnovers, a season high, including several deep inside their own territory. They also blocked both a point-after attempt and a field goal.
The night was an emotional one for the seniors, and getting a win in their final game at Franklin Field was very much appreciated.
"It wasn't just a regular season game for me," Jones said. "For me, and I think for other seniors it was one final goodbye to Franklin Field, and to all our fans and everything, so it meant a lot."
This game served as one final tune up for Penn's showdown with Army. The Black Knights (7-0, 3-0 North) handed the Quakers their only loss this season, a 24-14 game in which Penn's offense struggled mightily. Statistically speaking, Army boasts both the best offense (50.6 points per game) and defense (6.6 points per game) in the league, and beating them will be no small task for Penn.
So while this might have been the seniors' final game at home, they still have one game left next week, and it's for all the marbles.