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Senior quarterback Ryan Becker gave the Quakers’ offense a lift Saturday at Columbia, and Penn may need to rely on him even more with Billy Ragone nursing a minor ankle injury.
Junior kicker Connor Loftus has struggled this season, only completing three field goals in nine attempts, including having two kicks blocked. Loftus also recorded his first missed extra point of his career against Villanova. However, Loftus has proven to be strong on kickoffs, collecting four touchbacks compared to all other opponents five.
It was early in the game, with Penn needing a spark, when senior quarterback Ryan Becker spurred on the offense with a stunning 22-yard touchdown throw to tight end Mitchell King.
On a day where the offense wasn’t producing, the Quakers defense made up for it against Columbia. Columbia had just four first downs the entire game, getting just one in the second half, while Penn racked up four sacks, including one by sophomore defensive end Austin Taps.
With fifth-year senior Billy Ragone struggling, senior Ryan Becker came into the contest for a larger portion of time than he is accustomed to, and played very well. Coming in for a few series early before taking over late after a Ragone ankle injury, Becker threw for 73 yards and a touchdown, showing off his strong arm.
Senior safety Evan Jackson was simply ferocious this past Saturday against Columbia. Jackson tallied two tackles, one for loss, two pass breakups and a game-changing fourth quarter interception, putting the final nail in the Lion’s coffin.
After his defense gave up just seven points, senior defensive back Dan Wilk sure had reason to celebrate. Penn’s defense surrendered just four first downs to Columbia and didn’t give up any third-down conversions.
Penn’s defensive line was a large part of the Quakers’ victory over Columbia on Saturday. The Red and Blue controlled the line of scrimmage, holding Columbia to just 33 yards rushing all game.
Junior running back Spencer Kulcsar helped lead Penn’s potent ground game on Saturday, picking up 74 yards on 19 carries while also scoring the game-sealing, four-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Penn defensive lineman Jimmy Wagner notched a tackle in Penn’s win over Columbia Saturday. The defensive line as a whole sacked Columbia quarterback Kelly Hilinski four times during the game.
Junior linebacker Dan Davis was a force to be reckoned with at Columbia, picking up five tackles while also putting a vicious hit on Columbia quarterback Kelly Hilinski that knocked Hilinski out for two plays.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Billy Ragone had trouble in the passing game against Columbia, completing just 11 of his 24 passes. To make matters worse, Ragone was lifted late due to an ankle injury.
With Penn down by seven in the second quarter, sophomore tight end Mitchell King (second from left) caught a 22-yard pass from Ryan Becker for the Quakers’ first score. The touchdown helped give Penn momentum, as the team scored another touchdown three minutes later.
It isn’t easy facing Penn’s defense, as Columbia freshman quarterback Kelly Hilinski soon learned. Hilinski was 8-for-22 passing the ball and was knocked out for a few plays by Penn linebacker Dan Davis.
While Penn picked up a victory against Columbia, head coach Al Bagnoli was not satisfied afterwards, saying that the Quakers needed to “understand how difficult it is to overcome penalties and inconsistent play.”