PHILADELPHIA – After an unexpected bye week due to governmental issues in Washington prevented Penn from heading to Navy, the Quakers return to the gridiron on Friday night with a tilt against Franklin Pierce at Franklin Field at 7 p.m.
The postponed game between the Quakers and Midshipmen (rescheduled for Nov. 1) has jumbled the standings a bit in the CSFL. Army still stands atop the table with a 4-0 record, a half game ahead of Navy which is 3-0. Post enters the week ranked third, with a 3-1 record, and the Quakers are a half game back of Post at 2-1. Franklin Pierce, big winners against Princeton last week, is 2-2.
If the Quakers are to keep hopes of climbing back into title contention alive, they cannot afford a loss this week to the Ravens. The Naval Academy is set to head to Post this weekend, placing Penn a win away from sole possession of third place with three weeks left in the season.
Both sides are matched up pretty evenly in terms of scoring this season. Penn ranks fourth in the CSFL in scoring offense, averaging 27.3 points-per-game. The Ravens are right behind in fifth place, scoring 25.0 points-per-game. Defensively, FPU is third in the League, allowing 20.5 points-per-game. The Quakers are just a tick off the Ravens’ pace, conceding 21.0 points-per-game.
Penn still possesses the nation’s top offense, racking up almost 415 yards-per-game. The Red and Blue are averaging almost 136 yards more than Franklin Pierce on the offensive side of the ball, most of that advantage coming through the air.
Led by freshmen quarterback Mike McCurdy, Penn is second in the CSFL in passing offense, averaging 247.7 yards-per-game. The Red and Blue lead the League in completion percentage, connecting on 47 of 82 passes (57.3%) with just two interceptions. The Ravens, on the other hand, are connecting a clip of just 45.5%, completing 40 of 88 attempts with a CSFL-high eight interceptions.
The Quakers and Ravens are just about even when it comes to rushing the ball, Penn rushing for 167.0 yards-per-game to FPU’s 155.2. Where the teams diverge is when it comes to punching the ball over the goal line. Franklin Pierce is tied for the CSFL lead in rushing touchdowns with eight, while Penn is sixth of eight teams with three rushing scores.
While he may not be reaching the endzone regularly, Mike Beamish is averaging over 100 yards-per-game on the ground. He is third among all CSFL running backs, at 103.7 yards-per-game and his 5.8 yards-per-carry is also third in the League. Franklin Pierce’s D.J. MacDonald is fourth with 83.0 yards-per-game, but his five rushing touchdowns are tied for first. He has been named CSFL Offensive Player of the Week twice this season, most recently after scoring all five of his rushing touchdowns in one game against Princeton and adding a receiving score for good measure. Outside of the big game against the Tigers, though, he is averaging a modest 67.3 yards-per-game.
Two of the top three receivers in the CSFL will take the field for the Quakers on Friday. Jack Epstein (71.0 ypg) and Michael Bass (70.3 ypg) rank second and third, respectively, in the League in yards-per-game while serving as McCurdy’s top-two targets. The two have combined for 20 catches and 424 yards this season, with seven touchdowns. Another weapon for the Quakers in the receiving game is Keith Braccia. A dual-threat, he has also started games at quarterback in his career, Braccia has caught eight passes for 107 yards (13.4 yards-per-catch) in two games since moving out to wide receiver.
Stu Helgeson still sits near the top of the defensive leaders in the CSFL despite the week off, averaging 10.3 tackles-per-game for second in the League. His 21 solo stops are the most of any player on the League. Robert Diorio is 13th among defensive players with 6.3 tackles-per-game. Ed Cai ranks sixth among all players averaging 1.0 sacks-per-game.
The Ravens are aggressive in their defensive secondary, leading the League with 10 interceptions. Derek Reddy has three pickoffs for the Ravens while Jhamel Cohen has two – including one run back for a touchdown.