Killing bison is illegal without a permit in the United States, but that didn't stop Penn football against Bucknell.
The Quakers (1-0) defeated the Bison (0-3) by a score of 30-6 in Lewisburg, Pa. in what was Penn's first game in 665 days. Senior quarterback John Quinnelly made his first collegiate start in the season opener, and by the third quarter, the outcome was never in doubt.
The Red and the Blue were firing on all cylinders, executing well in all three phases of the game. Making the win even more impressive, a considerable portion of the roster had never played a snap of college football, let alone started a game or seen meaningful playing time, due to last year's canceled season.
Quinnelly recently won the starting quarterback job for the Quakers, and the Daphne, Ala. native made coach Ray Priore look brilliant for handing him the keys to the offense. Quinnelly threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns, one each to seniors Ryan Cragun and Rory Starkey Jr., with both passes over 40 yards. Quinnelly's afternoon was impressive, as he completed 15 of 22 passes without a single turnover.
"I thought [Quinnelly] played with great poise, under control," Priore said. "He hit short balls, his timing was great, and then we hit some long balls down the football field. He really came out and his first start was real impressive in my book."
Senior running back Trey Flowers tacked on a rushing touchdown as well. Flowers played second fiddle to graduate student Isaiah Malcome, who led the way on the ground for the Quakers, with 11 carries for 80 yards and no scores. Quinnelly notably kept the ball for himself 10 times throughout the game, finishing with 32 rushing yards.
"You know, every time I step on a field, it’s a unique feeling, but I’d be a whole lot more nervous if my coaches didn’t get me prepared — if we weren’t prepared," Quinnelly added. "To play at Penn, we’re really lucky to have the coaches we have that let us succeed by being so prepared. They worked their butts off to make sure we are gonna be successful, and I appreciate that."
Senior kicker Daniel Karrash made all three of his extra points and added three field goals in an efficient night.
Penn’s defense, after allowing a touchdown to Bucknell’s sophomore running back Danny Meuser on the Bison’s second drive of the game, shut out their Patriot League opponents the rest of the way. The PAT was blocked following the touchdown, and a combination of third- and fourth-down stops, a Jason McCleod Jr. interception, and several Prince Emili sacks shut down Bucknell’s offense for the remainder of the game. The Quakers’ special teams provided the defense with a huge boost, as junior punter Ben Krimm repeatedly pinned the Bison deep in their own territory.
"I feel like we came out and we did what we were supposed to do," Flowers said. "We still have to clean up some stuff, but I think we’re gonna come back stronger each week."
The Quakers combined all of these facets to finish the game with a resounding 30-6 win, starting off the season 1-0 and dropping the Bison to 0-3. As they try to capitalize and improve upon this successful start to the season, Penn will face Lafayette in Easton, Pa. next week at 3:30 p.m. before its home opener against Dartmouth on Oct. 1.
The Quakers' quarterback is optimistic as he looks ahead.
"Just an all-around great first game," Quinnelly said. "I think after this long of a period of time, we’re very excited to play, and I think now a lot of questions are answered. Are we gonna flow as a team? Are we gonna move the ball? I think we have a baseline now, and I think we have a lot to build on — a lot of things that we’ll see on film that we can build and go from here. I’m proud of everybody."