It isn’t always sunny in Philadelphia, and Penn football’s (3-1, 0-1 Ivy) game against Georgetown (3-3) on Saturday proved just that. While Penn walked away from overtime as the victor after a touchdown run by freshman running back Malachi Hosley, I still have concerns as the team heads into the bulk of Ivy League play.
Halfway through the third quarter, Penn radiated an invincible aura. Everyone wanted to throw their toast and see a win, because with five minutes left in the third, Penn was up 29-13. But in the next 20 minutes of game time, Penn went on to score only once more, while Georgetown scored 23 points to tie it at 36 apiece.
Penn defense has had its shining moments — they notched two interceptions and a safety — but it’s moments like what happened late in the game that will separate the champions from the rest of the pack. In those waning minutes, the Georgetown offense created first down after first down through the shiftiness of their receivers and rushers, scoring touchdowns on three straight drives. Penn defense even gave up two two-point conversion attempts that kept Georgetown’s pulse beating. One stop could have kept this game from overtime.
The defense throughout the season has felt like a story-of-two-halves situation. Last week against Dartmouth, they gave up 20 points in the first half and then shut the Big Green out in the second. Two weeks prior against Bucknell, they shut out the Bison in the first half and then let them score 21 points in the second. The defense needs to be consistent. It showed its potential today with the huge interceptions and pressure that forced Georgetown to settle for the field goal in overtime, but that potential needs to be realized more regularly. The Ivy League won’t be forgiving when given the opportunity for any late comebacks.
Moving to the offensive side of the ball, in a change of pace, the rushing game is what kept the Quakers alive Saturday. They exploded for 132 yards on the ground compared to last week’s 11. Hosley had two touchdowns on the day — including an incredible 55-yard rush where he put defenders on ice — and sophomore quarterback Liam O’Brien contributed two of his own. The Quakers are finding more opportunities to weave through the defense from blocking, which paid off in overtime. They have been finding more and more players that can step up in the big time. This week it was Hosley. Who knows who it may be next week?
But, the Quakers only notched one receiving touchdown despite junior quarterback Aidan Sayin’s 254 passing yards. A strong offensive attack consists of both success on the grand and through the air.
Furthermore, the offense was cold to start the game. The Georgetown defense forced a three-and-out and recovered a fumble after Sayin dropped a snap in the first half. The fumble gave fans — who are still recovering from the three lost fumbles against Dartmouth — a sense of déjà vu. While Penn did not have any other turnovers this game, the lost fumble — which turned into a Georgetown touchdown — is an important reminder of protecting the football. Penn still has yet to have a game without a turnover.
Let me be clear: I believe Penn can win the Ivy League. The defense has the tools to lock down its opponents and the offense finds new star contributors every week, and the special teams have junior kicker/punter Albert Jang, who should just try for the program-record field goal every week this season for the sake of my own entertainment. It’s a matter of both sides of the ball clicking simultaneously — of the defense finding their consistency and the offense both scoring creatively and protecting the ball.
I still believe in them, and you should too, but there’s still much to prove for the Red and Blue.
KRISTEL RAMBAUD is a junior and current sports reporter studying nursing from Monroe, N.J. All comments should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.