Halfway through Homecoming, Penn football is tied with Cornell at 7 apiece in a game that has so far been characterized by a lack of offensive thrill.
The Quakers, receiving the ball to start the game, looked to their star running back senior Karekin Brooks, who missed the team’s previous game against Brown. Brooks looked active from the get-go, but has so far only amassed 19 yards on 10 carries. As a result, the Quakers' offense struggled to get going in the half, evident by the fact that punter Jake Haggard was called on in five out of seven of the team’s drives.
On the other hand, the Quakers defensive unit has more than stood its ground. Having given up a 44-yard field goal attempt on the Big Red’s first drive, which went narrowly wide, Penn senior linebacker Zach Evans intercepted Cornell quarterback Richey Kenney at Penn’s 47-yard line in the first quarter.
With both teams unable to sustain any offensive pressure, two mistakes by the Big Red – a fumbled snap, followed by a sack on its one-yard line – gave the Red and Blue the ball deep in Cornell territory. Up stepped sophomore receiver Rory Starkey Jr., who first latched onto a 19-yard pass on fourth-and-one from senior quarterback Nick Robinson, and then converted on a 12-yard throw into the end zone.
Right after that play, Cornell responded through Kenney, whose passing allowed Cornell to advance the ball up the field quickly and into promising position at the Penn 5. Two consecutive offsides by Penn defensive linebacker senior Taheeb Sonekan gifted Cornell the ball with one yard needed, but they failed to do so on three tries, the last of which ended with a much-needed tackle by Sonekan.
As has been the case all game, the Red and Blue struggled moving the ball forward, and the Big Red were able to punish them with 5:08 to go. Cornell junior wide receiver Phazione McClurge got on the end of a throw from Kenney, shrugged off a Quaker defenseman, and rushed down the left sideline for the Big Red’s only score of the game.
With 30 minutes still to play, it's anybody's game.
Check back after the game for a full recap.
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