PHILADELPHIA – Mired in a logjam of four teams tied at 1-1 through two weeks of play in the Collegiate Sprint Football League, Penn heads to Ithaca on Friday night to take on an 0-2 Cornell team. The Quakers are sitting in a four-way tie for third place in the CSFL behind Army and Navy, and cannot afford a second loss if hopes of a League title are to remain alive.
The Red and Blue dominated the second half of its most recent contest, scoring 35 unanswered points over the final two quarters of play to storm back on Mansfield, 42-14. Michael Bass scored three touchdowns – hauling in a score on each of his three receptions in the game – to spark the offense. All of his catches came via the arm of Mike McCurdy. The freshman came on for the final play of the first half – an interception on a long Hail Mary attempt – and proceeded to go 12-of-13 in the second half for 237 yards and four touchdowns. Jack Epstein was another favorite target of Penn’s quarterbacks, catching six passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Stu Helgeson put on a clinic against Mansfield, making 18 tackles – including 10 solo stops – to go with an interception, forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He leads all CSFL players in tackles with 25 over two games and his 16 solo tackles are the most of any player in the CSFL.
The Red and Blue possess the No. 2-ranked scoring offense in the CSFL, averaging 27 points-per-game early in the season. Conversely, Cornell has scored just 16 total points this season over two games to sit last in the League with an average of eight points-per-game.
An interesting battle to watch will be when Cornell has the ball and is looking to run. The Big Red have been sluggish in the ground game to start the season, with just 68 yards gained on 58 carries to average 34 yards-per-game. Penn, meanwhile, has been giving up yards to opponents on the ground, conceding 284 yards rushing over two contests – an average of 142 yards-per-game for second-most among CSFL programs.
Whether it is McCurdy or Keith Braccia at quarterback for the Quakers, they are sure to test Cornell in a way the Big Red hasn’t seen to this point in 2013. Cornell ranks No. 1 in the CSFL in passing defense through two weeks this season, but has only had to defend 34 pass attempts to do so. Last week, Franklin Pierce attempted 23 passes and completed 11 for two touchdowns. Penn’s aerial game has racked up 269 yards-per-game over its two outings, throwing 55 total times to date.
Whatever happens at Schoellkopf Field, it will have a hard time topping the wild affair held at the same stadium to kickoff the 2012 season. The Quakers and Big Red engaged in an epic six-overtime game which featured 76 total points and a two-hour weather delay for lightning in the area. 34 of the games points came in overtime as both sides fought to come out on top in such a memorable game. In the end, Brendan Miller ran in from one-yard out in the sixth overtime to give Cornell the win.