He’s back. But it didn’t matter much.
In the return of reigning first team All-Collegiate Sprint Football League quarterback Eddie Jenkins, Penn sprint football traveled to West Point, N.Y. looking to get back on track by avenging last season’s 10-0 loss in the CSFL championship game. In the end, however, it would be a game dominated by defense — and in the second half, Jenkins’ counterpart, Army senior Keegan West — as the Quakers dropped their second game in a row, 28-6, in a matchup that felt much closer than the final score indicated.
Despite the two high-powered quarterbacks, much of the first half was defined by the defenses. At the end of the first quarter, both defenses kept the game scoreless — despite good starting field position due to shaky punting by both teams, turnovers, and penalties.
This stretch of frustrating play was exemplified just as it seemed the Quakers (2-2, 1-1 South) may have broken through. With just over three minutes to go in the first quarter, a strip sack by senior defensive lineman Angelo Matos was recovered by senior defensive lineman Sam Smallzman and returned 55 yards for what seemed to be a touchdown until the refs called the play back for a penalty. With the Quakers' offense on the field, Jenkins failed to take advantage of the good field position, fumbling the ball back over to the Black Knights (4-0, 1-0 North) just three plays later.
Army seemed to finally find their offensive groove late in the first by getting the ball to junior running back Jake Gigliotti, who wiggled out of multiple tackles on a 35-yard screen pass to set his team up with a first and goal. That set the stage for the first of West’s four touchdown passes one play later on a fade to senior wide receiver Clayton Carter.
Jenkins and the Quakers were quick to respond, as on their very next drive the quarterback lofted a pass over the middle to senior wide receiver Aiden Kelly. Army defensive back Ryan Leach jumped the route, but barely missed the interception, giving Kelly nothing but turf in front of him. The 64-yard catch-and-run would be the only points Penn would score after a missed extra point. The score meant Penn headed to halftime only down 7-6.
Heading into the third quarter, it seemed as if Penn may have caught the break they needed to get back in the game. In a half marked by feisty and intense defensive play, a series of personal foul penalties led to the ejection of three Black Knights players including Gigliotti late in the second. However when Gigliotti left the field, West and the rest of the Army offense picked up the slack.
Towards the end of the third quarter West hit junior receiver Tom Williamson in the end zone on a 17-yard fade to make the score 14-6. On the very next possession, after a 12-play drive, West once again connected with Williamson on a nearly identical play for a nine-yard score.
Another West touchdown late in the fourth quarter gave the Black Knights 21 unanswered points in the second half, and ended any hope of a Penn comeback. West finished with 38 completions for 374 yards and four touchdowns.
While the trip to Army may not have gone the way the Red and Blue had hoped for, they can take solace in knowing that their championship hopes are still alive thanks to the CSFL’s divisional structure and Chestnut Hill’s loss to Cornell on Saturday. Penn needs to win out and get help in the form of a Chestnut Hill loss to Navy to reach the title game.
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