Football Faces William & Mary Saturday in Final Non-League Game
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PHILADELPHIA - It is the final non-conference matchup of the season for both William & Mary (1-4) and Penn (1-2), and both teams are coming off their first wins of the year. It has been 17 years since these two programs met on the gridiron and this marks the first time the Quakers play host to the Tribe at Franklin Field since 1992. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.
The Penn-William & Mary Series
This marks just the sixth meeting all-time between the Quakers and Tribe. Franklin Field has now been the host for five of those encounters. Penn won the first matchup, 46-0, on Oct. 14, 1944, but William & Mary has won the last four—the latest being a 48-34 shootout at Zable Stadium in 1995. In the last meeting in Philadelphia, the Tribe escaped, 21-19, in Coach Bagnoli’s third game at the helm of the Quakers. Saturday marks Bagnoli’s 202nd game at Penn. He is 0-2 against Jimmye Laycock, who is in his 33rd season at William & Mary.
This is usually a rare occasion. Both of today’s head coaches are members of the 200-win club. In the history of college football (all levels), this has only occurred 45 times before today, and only 16 times between FCS coaches. However, this marks the second time in three games that Coach Bagnoli has added to that total. In Penn’s home opener on Sept 22, he and Villanova Head Coach Andy Talley became just the third FCS coaching duo to go head-to-head with 220 or more career wins. Today, Coach Bagnoli, who has won 223 times in 306 career games, goes up against William & Mary’s 33-year head coach Jimmye Laycock, who has 213 wins in 366 career games. (Odd fact: Bagnoli is the only coach in the 200-win club without a tie on his record).
Penn has never lost three straight non-conference games under head coach Al Bagnoli. For the fifth time in the last six seasons, the Quakers have dropped their first two non-conference matchups. However, the Red and Blue haven’t lost three straight non-conference games since they went 0-3 against out-of-conference opponents in 1991 (at Holy Cross, vs. Lafayette, at Lehigh). That was the tailend of a six-game non-conference losing streak that was broken in Al Bagnoli’s first-ever non-league game in 1992 (24-0 vs. Colgate).
Penn has lost 12 of its last 14 in the month of September, but when the calender turns to October, the Red and Blue have been unbeatable recently. They are 18-1 in the last four Octobers and have not lost a home game in the month of October since a triple overtime defeat to No. 16 Yale (26-20) on Oct. 20, 2007. Penn’s only October loss over the last four years came at Brown last season in a 6-0 loss that ended the second-longest Ivy League winning streak of all-time at 18 games.
Every year since 1989, the Quakers have opened their Ivy slate with Dartmouth. With last Saturday’s win in Hanover, the Quakers have now started 1-0 in league play 18 times in those 22 years, including a 17-4 mark (.800) in Ivy openers under head coach Al Bagnoli.
One Possession Winners
Last week also marked the fourth straight year in which the Quakers beat Dartmouth by a single possession. In fact, since 2006, only one Penn-Dartmouth matchup has been decided by more than a single score. The Quakers have excelled in such games under Coach Bagnoli. During his 21 seasons, the Red and Blue are 42-28 (.600) in one possession games and are even more successful in close contests against the Ivy League at 33-16 (.673).
Penn Scoring Trend
Penn has never been shut out at home in the Al Bagnoli era. In fact, the last time the Quakers were held without a point at Franklin Field was Nov. 18, 1989 (24-0 vs. Dartmouth), a span of 114 games.
0-2? No problem.
Does this seem familiar? Penn is 1-2 after a home loss to Villanova, a close loss at Lafayette, and a close win at Dartmouth on national television. In 2009, the Quakers followed the same path and then went on to win the next seven to claim an undefeated Ivy League championship.
Other Quick Quaker Notes
Penn had eight turnovers in the season opener, but has not turned the ball over since then .. Penn has scored 20 or more points in 15 of its last 16 Ivy games ... Penn has allowed an opening-drive touchdown just once since Nov. 1, 2008 (36 games)—Lafayette went just 14 yards to do it in the 2012 season opener.
This season, senior quarterback Billy Ragone became just the fourth player in Penn’s 136-year history with 4,000 total yards of offense. Last week, he moved past former QB Jimmy McGeehan (1991-93) for third place on the school’s all-time list. With the addition of his first career reception last week, Ragone has 4,240 career yards of total offense (3,069 pass, 1,162 rush, 9 receiving). Mike Mitchell is the next name above Ragone’s in the record book at 5,394, while Gavin Hoffman is the runaway school record holder with 7,188 yards between 1999-2001.
Ragone Milestones: Part 2
Also last week, Ragone became Penn’s 11th player with 3,000 career passing yards. He’ll need 144 yards to move into the school’s top 10 in all-time career passing yards on Saturday. He is already the only player in program history to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000 yards over the course of his career. A complete list of Quakers approaching milestones is on page six of the game notes and a list of Quakers climbing the school record book is on page 10 of the game notes.
Lopano Ranked No. 5 in the Nation
If you’ve been keeping track of the Quakers this season, it won’t surprise you to learn that senior punter Scott Lopano ranks fifth in the nation in punting average. Lopano has an average of 44.7 yards per punt this year, including two over 50 yards and a 67-yarder in the home opener against Villanova. Nine of his last 10 punts have sailed more than 40 yards, he has pinned five inside the 20-yard line and has forced five fair catches. More importantly, Lopano has Penn ranked fourth in the FCS in net punting, which includes the opponent’s punt returns. Lopano’s high arc and the punt coverage units have combined to allow just 18 total return yards on 13 punts—giving the Quakers a net average of 40.23 (one of six FCS schools to change field position by more than 40 yards per punt).
Lopano: Part 2
Lopano, a four-year starter at the position, is also moving up in the school record books. He has 151 career punts as a member of the Red and Blue, which currently ranks fourth; he is eight punts from matching Rob Sims (1990-92) and 15 from tying Ryan Lazzeri (1998-2001) for second place. Jeff Salvino’s 186 punts from 1994-97 is the school standard. In addition, Lopano’s current average of 44.7 yards per punt is ahead of Sims’ single-season school record of 43.5.
Last Time Out vs. William & Mary
It has been 17 years since the last matchup between these programs. The Tribe won 48-34 at Zable Stadium on Oct. 14, 1995. Current tight ends coach Mark Fabish had a punt return for a touchdown—one of three in his career (school record). Current Washington Nationals infielder, Mark DeRosa, tied a school record with 48 pass attempts (since broken), threw for 255 yards, ran for a touchdown and connected with wideout Miles Macik for another. Nick Morris led the way with 14 tackles, but Penn trailed 21-7 at the half and 34-13 entering the fourth quarter. This was just one week after Penn’s NCAA record 24-game winning streak was snapped by Columbia.
Franklin Field Thriller
The Tribe’s last trip to Franklin Field was Al Bagnoli’s fourth as head coach at Penn. Saturday marks his 202nd game along the Penn sidelines. Many of his current players were not yet born when this game occurred. William and Mary scored on the first play of the fourth quarter to go up 21-13. The Tribe had the ball at the Penn 18 with 2:45 remaining when, Maceo Grant recovered a fumble and ran 79 yards for the score. Penn’s 2-point conversion was missed when Terrance Stokes took a pitch, looked to pass, ran up the middle and was stopped. After a failed onside kick attempt, Penn’s defense got the ball back for quarterback Jimmy McGeehan, but with just 51 seconds left from their own 20, Penn had to resort to a hail mary as time expired. It fell short in a 21-19 loss—Al Bagnoli’s first at Franklin Field, where he is 74-29 (.718).
Penn has the luxury of a crowded backfield. The Quakers have four different players with more than 790 career rushing yards. The senior quartet has combined for more than 4,200 yards in the past three-plus seasons (4,219). Brandon Colavita leads with 1,416 yards, followed by Billy Ragone’s 1,162, Jeff Jack’s 844 and Lyle Marsh’s 797.
No program in the history of college football—at any level—has played more games than Penn. Every time they play, the Quakers set an NCAA record. Saturday’s game will be the 1,327th in the Red and Blue’s illustrious history. Penn remains the only program to pass 1,300 games, hitting that mark on Oct. 31, 2009 in an overtime win at Brown. Yale is second all-time with 1,274 games played.
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Last Time Out