Football Looks to Remain Unbeaten in Ivy Play Saturday
PHILADELPHIA - Following their third non-conference loss of the season, the Quakers now host a league opponent that has not won at Franklin Field since 1996. In fact, Penn (1-3, 1-0 Ivy) hasn’t lost to Columbia (1-3, 0-1 Ivy)—at any location—since that home loss 16 years ago. The Red and Blue’s 15-game winning streak over the Lions is the longest active streak over an opponent in the FCS. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
The Penn-Columbia Series
It has been a one-sided series between these two programs. Of the first 91 all-time meetings, the Quakers have won 69 of them and lead 69-21-1 overall (.764). At Franklin Field, Penn’s advantage is even more daunting with 41 wins in 46 games (.891). It has been more of the same recently as the Quakers have won 15 straight on the field of play over Columbia—tied for the 12th-longest win streak over an opponent in an uninterrupted series in FCS history. Head Coach Al Bagnoli is 17-3 against the Lions.
Penn’s 15-game winning streak over Columbia is the longest active annual streak against any one opponent in the FCS. Lehigh will be going for its 15th straight against Bucknell later this season. In the NCAA record book, the 15 straight wins ranks tied for 12th all-time and is the third-longest streak in league history. A win today would match the second-longest winning streak over one opponent in Ivy history and match the ninth-longest streak in FCS history.
Columbia still remains infamous in West Philadelphia as the team that broke Penn’s NCAA record streak of 24 straight wins. The Lions broke that mark at Kraft Field in 1995 with a 24-14 win over the Quakers. Penn’s record, which spanned between 1992-95, has been matched by Montana, but never surpassed.
Pregame Show: Penn Football Gamplan
Beginning 35 minutes before each Red and Blue gridiron contest this season, the Penn Sports Network will present Penn Football Gameplan, delivering on-line streaming audio pre-game content not regularly available during the team’s radio broadcast. The weekly show -- through one-on-one interviews and feature segments -- will be geared toward giving greater insight into the Quakers’ preparations for their forthcoming contests, as well as in-depth perspective on Penn’s opponents. Brian Seltzer and Hench Murray will host on the Penn Sports Network.
Penn’s offense has been proficient on third downs this season, while the defense has been stingy during those scenarios. With the exception of the home opener against Villanova, the offense has converted on third downs at 50% or better in every game, while opponents are well under that mark. Excluding a 3-for-13 day against the Wildcats, Penn has converted 24-of-46 (52.1%) third downs. The defense allowed Villanova to convert 7-of-13, but outside of that week, opponents have been successful on just 13-of-39 (33.3%) on third down.
Ragone in the Record Books Part I
Senior quarterback Billy Ragone ranks fourth all-time at Penn in career completion percentage. Ragone was 0-for-6 to start the game last weekend and did not complete a pass until late in the second quarter. But he finished with a career high 21 completions on a career high 35 attempts. Those numbers moved him up in the record books (see Part II). Ragone has completed 256 of his 440 attempts for a clip of 58.2 percent. That trails only Gavin Hoffman (64.8%), Mike Mitchell (63.7%) and Matt Rader (59.1%).
Ragone in the Record Books Part II
This season, Ragone became just the fourth player in Penn’s 136-year history with 4,000 total yards of offense. Last Saturday, he also moved up in the top 10 all-time at Penn in career pass yards, touchdowns, attempts and completions. His season-high 207 yards gave him 3,276 for his career. That passed Bill Creeden (1965-67) for 10th all-time in school history. Ragone’s 35 pass attempts last week gave him 475 for his career as he passed Gary Vura (1980-82) to move into 10th place. Ragone’s 21 completions now give him 277 for his career which places eighth all-time at Penn—14 from tying recent signal-caller, Robert Irvin (2006-08) for seventh. He became Penn’s 12th player all-time with 20 passing touchdowns—mathcing Matt Rader (1997-98), Vura and Creeden for ninth place. A complete list of Quakers approaching milestones is on page five of the game notes and a list of Ragone in the school record book is on page four.
One Last Note on Ragone
The third-year starting quarterback, who is 6-1 as a starter at home against the Ivy League, threw five interceptions in his first 23 attempts of the season. Since that time, he has not turned the ball over once on 60 pass attempts and 35 rushing attempts. He has accounted for 412 pass yards, 106 rush yards, nine receiving yards and three touchdowns in that span (last 13 quarters).
Lopano Ranked No. 7 in the Nation
If you’ve been keeping track of the Quakers this season, it won’t surprise you to learn that entering today, senior punter Scott Lopano ranks seventh in the nation in punting average. Lopano has an average of 43.9 yards per punt this year, including two over 50 yards and a 67-yarder in the home opener against Villanova. Of his 18 punts, he has pinned eight inside the 20-yard line and has forced seven fair catches.
Lopano in the Record Books
Lopano, a four-year starter at the position, is also moving up in the school record books. He has 156 career punts as a member of the Red and Blue, which currently ranks fourth; he is just three punts from matching Rob Sims (1990-92) for third and 10 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 43.9 yards per punt is ahead of Sims’ single-season school record of 43.5.
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 115 games.
Quick Quaker Notes
Penn has scored exactly 27 points in three straight meetings with Columbia ... 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 ... The Quakers have not forced a turnover in any of the last three games ... Penn did not have a sack in either of the first two games, but has combined for seven in the last two ... The Quakers have averaged 171.3 yards on the ground in the last three games.
Penn has the luxury of a crowded backfield. The Quakers have four different players with more than 800 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 1,201, Jeff Jack’s 921 and Lyle Marsh’s 819.
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 1,328th 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 1,275 games played.
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