Friday night lights marked the end of the road for the Quakers this season, but they didn’t go out without a fight.
In an attempt to lock in a spot in their second-straight Collegiate Sprint Football League title game, Penn sprint football faced Navy under the lights at Franklin Field after dominating Caldwell last weekend. Boasting the league's second-ranked scoring offense and defense, Navy took away the Quakers’ shot at a CSFL championship and ended their 2018 season, downing the Quakers, 20-9.
The Midshipmen (5-1, 4-0 South) came in hot, posting up 13 points in just the first quarter alone, including a 41-yard pick-six. While Penn (3-3, 2-2) managed to score a field goal in the second quarter after being stopped on first and goal from the one, the scoreboard remained relatively unchanged until the fourth quarter, with neither team putting up any points throughout most of the second and third quarters.
With Navy still up 13-3 at the end of the third, the Red and Blue knew they needed to change the pace and put some points up on the board, and that’s what they did.
The Quakers gained momentum in the last quarter, with junior quarterback Eddie Jenkins rushing the ball into the end zone with just below 8 minutes left in the game. The kick was blocked, leaving the Red and Blue just four points behind the Midshipmen and making another touchdown their only shot at victory.
The Quakers quickly regained possession, with junior kicker Theodoros Papazekos, who is also an editor for the DP, successfully completing an onside kick to senior defensive back Guiseppe Bevacqua. Despite a 26-yard drive, the Quakers were not able to finish the job, turning possession back over to Navy with a failed fourth-down conversion.
“We had our opportunities; we just couldn’t take advantage there. [Our] defense played a fantastic game. They gave us every shot to win, and unfortunately on offense we couldn’t do enough to win the game,” Jenkins said.
Navy followed up its defensive stop by putting the game away on offense, scoring a touchdown after a 77-yard drive with just under a minute and a half left. The Quakers were not able to make anything of their final possession, and Navy left Franklin Field with the win.
Senior running back Jake Klaus was also disappointed over missed opportunities.
“They’re a good team. I thought we came in prepared, but [they had] a couple big plays…it [was] tough to rebound. We started to get our momentum at the end. It’s a shame—I think if we had one more quarter, we might have come out on top,” Klaus said.
While the game and the season may not have ended as the Quakers had hoped, they certainly have no shortage of motivation heading into the 2019 season. In reflecting on his four years, Klaus, who is a two-time all-CSFL running back, gave some advice to his younger teammates.
“I think just for them to buy in and kind of just take every step not for granted. They have a lot of talent, so they are going to be a good team next year, and I’m excited to watch them.”
With this season done and an eye now on next year, Jenkins recognized that there are areas the team needs to improve in if they want to see a shot at the CSFL title once again.
“We’re losing a lot of seniors, so we have to replace some leaders on the team. Guys have to step up; we have a lot of good, young talent. They just got to learn the offense or the defense and get in the weight room and get stronger."
Penn won't be playing for the championship this year, but they can use the lessons learned this year to fuel them in the off-season.
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