Some things just never change.
After falling to Army last week in its season opener, Penn sprint football set out to get back on track in northern Pennsylvania in a battle with the Mountaineers of Mansfield University. The Quakers had plenty of reason to believe that this would be the perfect game to right the ship. Of the eleven previous matchups with their in-state foes, dating back to 2008, the Red and the Blue have won every game. Though the Mountaineers were 1-0 following their drubbing of Cornell University, surely the Quakers had to have derived some confidence from their spotless past with Mansfield.
Indeed they did, immediately jumping out to a 7-0 lead in a lightning-quick five-play, 73-yard drive that ended in a Laquan McKever touchdown just two-and-a-half minutes into the game. After trading a few punts back and forth, the Quakers marched down the field and the senior running back again punched it in for six. McKever would later rack up his third score in four drives as the second quarter began.
Though the Quakers gave up their first touchdown of the game on a long run by Mansfield quarterback Cahsid Raymond, they would quickly return fire on an Andrew Paolini pass to senior tight end Ben Klaus. The junior quarterback also flexed his defensive muscles on the next series, recovering a fumble forced by junior linebacker Lewis Evans to end what had looked like a potentially promising Mountaineer drive. The back-to-back big plays must have energized the Quaker signal-caller, as he went on to account for all but one of the remainder of Penn’s scores. He finished the night with four touchdowns and 270 yards through the air, along with no interceptions on 12-of-21 passing.
McKever’s big night ended with his three touchdowns, as well as 152 yards on 28 carries, an impressive 5.4 yards per carry. Fellow running back, freshman Tom Rebstock, tacked on an additional 62 yards and a score. Senior wideout Brendan McCaffrey led the Quakers in receiving yards with 163, and he and Klaus each accounted for two receiving touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, freshman linebacker Jake Inserra led the team in solo tackles with 10. Other notable defensive performers included senior Sam Mintz, who recorded an interception to end the third quarter, and freshman linebacker Matt McKillop, who took down Raymond for the game’s only sack by either side.
The Quakers fell just a point shy of doubling up their cross-state opponents, with a final score of 55-28. They will look to keep up the momentum against Cornell next week, the team’s home opener at Franklin Field.