PHILADELPHIA - Seniors Scott Lopano and Brandon Copeland earned Ivy League Player of the Week accolades on Monday and each garnered national recognition on Tuesday. Lopano claimed the special teams award from the Ivies and College Sports Journal, while Copeland was named the NCAA Defensive Player of the Week and an Ivy co-defensive honoree.
In their final game at Franklin Field, the two seniors played a decisive role in the University of Pennsylvania football team's Ivy-title clinching win over Harvard on Saturday. This marks the first time any Penn player has earned National Player of the Week accolades since Jon Saelinger had three inteceptions in the 2010 season opener to claim co-defensive honors from The Sports Network.
The duo helped shut down one of the nation's top offensive units and Penn clinched a share of its 16th Ivy League title with a 30-21 win over the Crimson. Lopano pinned all three of his fourth-quarter punts inside the 15-yard line and Copeland, who earned this honor for the first time in his career, sealed the win with a safety on his second sack of the day.
Lopano punted eight times and six of them fell inside the 20. The Crimson did not score on any of the three fourth-quarter possessions where Lopano pinned them inside the 15. His final punt led to Copeland's game-winning safety. Despite having to pin-in the Crimson, Lopano still averaged an impressive 43.0 yards on eight punts. The Southlake, Texas, native also forced six fair catches and held Harvard to a total of seven return yards on his eight punts. Lopano, who holds Penn's career records for punts and punt yards, pinned back the Crimson all day and helped hold the fourth-best offense in the FCS and the third-highest scoring offense in the nation to its lowest point total in two years.
Penn's second sole captain since 1977, Copeland, had his biggest moment at the biggest time with the Ivy title on the line. In his final game at Franklin Field, Copeland sealed the victory over Harvard and guaranteed Penn a piece of the 2012 Ivy title with a sack and safety with 1:25 left. Copeland, who recorded his first career multi-sack game, finished with five tackles in all, four solo and two for a loss of 13 yards.
Harvard, who boasted the fourth-best offense in the nation (507.3 ypg) and third-highest scoring offense in the FCS, had three possessions with a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but Copeland and the Quakers held the Crimson to a total of two yards on those three drives, including a combined negative-3 yards on the final two drives.
Copeland also took down Harvard quarterback Colton Chapple for a 10-yard loss on the Crimson's first play from scrimmage. That set the tone. Harvard finished more than 200 total yards behind its season average. The Crimson had averaged an Ivy-best 214.1 rush yards and finished with 121, and ranked 10th in the FCS with 293.6 pass yards, but finished with 174.
This marks the second straight week the Quakers have claimed half of the league's player of the week honors. Following the dramatic fourth-quarter comeback win at Princeton, senior quarterback Billy Ragone won the offensive award, while senior defensive lineman C.J. Mooney earned the defensive accolade.
This also marks the third time in five weeks the Quakers have won the special teams distinction. Lopano earned the same honor with the second-most punt yards in a game in school history during Penn's win over Columbia on Oct. 13. Two weeks later, sophomore placekicker Connor Loftus garnered the award after his game-tying and game-winning field goals in the closing minutes against Brown.
Lopano, Copeland and the Quakers will have a chance to claim the outright Ivy League title on Saturday at Cornell. Kickoff from Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, N.Y., is set for 12:30 p.m.