In the sprint football world, nothing is certain except death, taxes, and Eddie Jenkins finding the end zone.
Behind an impressive offensive line and a defense that made plays when it needed to, Penn sprint football came away with a 42-32 win against Chestnut Hill at Franklin Field on Saturday afternoon. The Quakers (3-1) dominated for 349 yards on the ground, while the Griffins (2-2) came up empty handed in a key Collegiate Sprint Football League matchup between two Philadelphia teams.
After allowing a Chestnut Hill touchdown on the first drive of the game, the Red and Blue responded quickly. They made their way down the field easily, and senior quarterback Eddie Jenkins punched the ball in from the three-yard line to cap off a five-play, 51-yard drive. On a windy day, both teams missed their first extra point.
Chestnut Hill’s next drive culminated in a touchdown pass from quarterback Michael Marino, who beat the Penn defense on a deep throw. As a result of their kicking woes, the Griffins attempted a two-point conversion and converted on a screen pass to take an eight-point lead.
Not to be outdone, the Quakers found the end zone again when sophomore running back Laquan McKever scored on a two-yard run. Jenkins proceeded to sneak the football in yet again on the two-point conversion to tie the game up at 14.
McKever continued his torrid pace with 238 rushing yards and countless broken tackles, but he gave all the praise to the big men up front after another impressive win.
“The offensive line is still doing an insane job, and they open up insanely amazing holes for me to run through," McKever said. “I would say they’re helping me look good, and I help them look good."
Another player to keep an eye on is junior defensive back Joshua Trybus, who made the transition to defense after playing receiver during his first two seasons. His time on offense has clearly given him a knack for finding the ball, as he has come up with an interception in all four of Penn’s games so far, including a crucial one against Chestnut Hill.
“I’ve just kind of been running to the ball … the picks have just been coming naturally,” said Trybus, who had previously played defensive back in high school.
Later in the second quarter, Penn failed to convert on a third-and-18, but they were saved by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Chestnut Hill, which allowed Jenkins to find sophomore wide receiver Brendan McCaffrey on a six-yard touchdown pass. The penalty was emblematic of a chippy, hard-fought game, during which both teams played with intensity.
“Chestnut Hill wanted to play a mental game, but they couldn’t handle the talk or walk the walk, so we gave it to them,” said McCaffrey, who had two touchdown grabs on the afternoon.
After McCaffrey’s second score of the second quarter, the Quakers led 28-20. In the third quarter, Chestnut Hill mounted an impressive drive and threatened to tie the game, but a pair of Penn freshmen made key defensive plays in the red zone.
Linebacker Caleb Pierce sacked Marino to set up a third-and-goal from the Penn 22-yard line, and fellow freshman linebacker Davis Buchanan intercepted him in the end zone to prevent the Griffins from coming back. Pierce and Buchanan should be a force for Penn’s front-seven for years to come.
In the fourth quarter, the Quakers iced the game when touchdown machine Jenkins sprinted past multiple Chestnut Hill defenders on his way to a 36-yard score to put the Red and Blue up 35-26 with 2:19 remaining. After another takeaway by the defense on the ensuing possession, McKever broke free for a 46-yard score to cushion the Quakers’ lead.
“We had to beat Chestnut Hill, and now we are still on pace to be able to compete in the championship game,” McKever said.
At 3-1, Penn has all the weapons necessary to appear in the CSFL Championship Game on Nov. 8 at Franklin Field, which would be a fitting end to coach Bill Wagner’s 50th and final season at the helm.
After their upcoming bye, the Quakers will look to continue their success in a critical matchup against Navy (4-0) in Annapolis, Md. This showdown could play a big role in determining who takes the field in the championship game.
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