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Penn players line up against Lehigh during a game at Franklin Field on Oct. 9, 2021. Credit: Vanessa Huang

Penn will take on Colgate in their first game of the season this weekend at Franklin Field.

After a 3-7 finish last season, the Quakers will be looking to start the season on a positive note against an opponent in Colgate (1-1) that comes off a close, hard-fought victory last week against University of Maine.

“They are traditionally a very physical, big, strong football team,” coach Ray Priore said. “We have to establish the run to be a good offense [against them].”

The Quaker’s run game will be led by senior running backs Trey Flowers and Jonathan Mulatu. Flowers, in particular, broke out last season, accumulating six touchdowns over the 10-game season. 

Clearing the way for Flowers and the rest of the run game will be the Quakers' offensive line, which benefits from its relative experience compared to the rest of the roster.

“We return four of our five starters in the offensive line, which helps in the running game,” Priore said.

The run game isn’t the only part of the offense to watch, as sophomore quarterback Aidan Sayin, who earned the starting job midway through last season, will enter his first season as the primary QB.

“[He’s looking] real good. It was very helpful last year for him to get varsity snaps," Priore said about his QB. "He played over half the season last year…he’s really approached [the job] in a very professional manner. He worked hard in the springtime [and] earned the job.”

Colgate also boasts an exciting young quarterback in sophomore Michael Brescia. As a dual-threat QB, Brescia and the rest of Colgate's run-heavy offense has potential to wreak havoc on the Penn defense. In their last game against Maine, the Raiders threw 12 passes, while they ran the ball a whopping 42 times, 15 of which coming from Brescia alone.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of quarterback pre-determined run plays,” Priore said. “The way you defend against someone like that [is] make them one-dimensional, where he has to throw the ball to be effective.”

The challenge will serve as a valuable test for a Quaker defense which thrived in the pass game last season, finishing second in the Ivy League, but struggled in the run game, ending with the third-most rushing yards against them in the conference.

With this opportunity for the Quaker defense to prove itself — along with quarterback Sayin and the rest of the offense — Priore and his team have high hopes for what this first outing could look like.

“We’re excited. Guys are getting very excited about getting back on the field,” Priore said. “We’ll have some first-game jitters, I’m sure to some degree, but then we’ll have that mindset hopefully with lots of excitement and juice.”

The game will kick off Saturday, September 17th at 1 p.m. at Franklin Field and will stream on ESPN+ as well.