PHILADELPHIA - Coming off a tightly contested 35-28 win over Ivy League rival Cornell, sprint football will be on the road for the first time in Week 6 when it travels to West Point for a showdown with Army. This year's contest follows the same pregame story lines as a season ago only the roles have been reversed. Last season, it was Penn that was unbeaten, but a one-loss Army teamed knocked off the Quakers and forced a three-way tie for the CSFL championship. This season Army (4-1, 4-0 CSFL) is one of two remaining teams, alongside Navy, with unblemished league records. The Quakers (4-1, 3-1 CSFL) are looking for the big road win to insert themselves into the CSFL title hunt.
For fans unable to make the trip to West Point, Army's Knight Vision video team will be providing live video coverage of all the action Friday night. Live stats will also be available. Kickoff for this game is set for 7 p.m.
The Quakers offense will certainly have to be clicking on all cylinders as Army has shown the ability to put points on the board with the top-rated offense in the CSFL. Fortunately for Penn, the Quakers seem to be really coming together as a team and are riding a three-game winning streak. Senior Todd Busler is coming off his strongest performance of the season after throwing for 398 yards in the win over Cornell, which was the second-highest single-game total in program history. For the season, the senior captain is third in the CSFL in passing with 1,011 yards and is tied for second in touchdown passes with 11.
Through the air, Mathew Wetherell continues to make senior season at Penn one to remember. Last week, Wetherell caught just three passes, but ended up with 134 yards receiving, including a 91-yard touchdown reception to open up the scoring. He leads the team with 17 catches for 330 yards and four touchdowns. After sitting out a week, Whit Shaw caught six passes for 101 yards against Cornell. He now has 15 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Andrew Donald has added 14 catches and 200 yards receiving to the Quakers passing attack. He has three touchdowns this season. Kamil Okroj has also come on strong as of late. He has 11 catches for 218 yards and is averaging a team-best 19.8 yards per reception. In each of the past two weeks, Okraj has had 80-plus yards receiving and one touchdown. Mike Beamish has caught nine passes out of the backfield this season, while Freddy Ordonez has four catches for 34 yards. Danny Reyes also has one reception this season.
On the ground, Beamish still managed to rush for 84 yards despite Cornell's heavy focus on the run a week ago. In his freshman campaign, Beamish remains second in the CSFL in rushing yardage with 529. He is averaging six yards per carry and has run for four touchdowns. He is averaging over 105 yards rushing per game. Busler has added 98 yards on the ground this season, but has run for five touchdowns. Jeff Grimes has also provided depth at the running back position. He has 94 yards rushing this season on 20 carries, an average of 4.7 yards per run.
Special teams really made a difference in the win over Cornell as Shaw was honored as the CSFL Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against the Big Red. Shaw returned three kickoffs for 138 yards and a touchdown, while also taking two punt returns. This season, Shaw has returned 10 kickoffs for 295 yards and the touchdown. He has also returns six punts and is averaging 9.7 yards per punt return. Grimes and Donald have also seen time deep on kickoff returns. Grimes has returned four kickoffs for 55 yards, while Donald has taken three kickoffs for a total return of 41 yards.
Michael Bass has handled the field goals and PAT's this season. He is 4-6 on field goal attempts this year with a pair of field goals in each of the last two games. He has also converted 12 extra points, scoring a total of 24 points this season. Kai Peng has handled the primary kickoff duties. He is averaging 56.9 yards on 19 kickoffs. Beamish has taken care of all the punting this season. He is averaging 34.2 yards per punt and has a long of 55 yards. Five of his twenty punts have forced the opposition to start inside of its own 20.
The two squads look to be very evenly matched on the defensive side of the ball. Army is allowing 333 yards of offensive to its opponents per game, fourth-best in the league. The Quakers are conceding just slightly more at 352 yards per game, fifth-best in the CSFL.
Matt Cuccinello just continues to stand out and has taken over the CSFL lead in total tackles with 57 this season, 39 of which were solo. He has had at least 10 tackles in every game this season. Jack Miller is second on the team with 34 tackles, 21 solo. Anthony DiBella has added 28 tackles, while Chris Twombly has gotten to the ball carrier 25 times. Alexander Starr has made 21 tackles this season, while Nick Rush has 20 tackles, which gives Penn six players with 20-plus tackles. Fourteen players have recorded 10-plus tackles this season.
As a defensive unit, Penn has made 43 tackles for loss, including 14 sacks. Cuccinello has made 11.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage and has gotten to the quarterback three times for the sack. Brandon Batzel has a team-high four sacks and six tackles for loss on the defensive line. Hassan Siddiqui has made three sacks this season, while Starr has two. Carl Wittig and Miller each have one sack this season.
Starr intercepted a pass for the second consecutive week and is now tied for the CSFL lead in that category with four. Rolando Lyles has two interceptions this season, while Reyes, Peng, and Twombly each have one pick. In the turnover battle, Penn has recovered seven fumbles and only lost three.
Army comes into the game with the one of best dual threats in the league at quarterback. Javier Sustaita is coming off of 353 yard passing performance, while also rushing for 76 yards against Post. He totaled eight touchdowns in that game, four through the air and four rushing, to come away with co-CSFL Offensive Player of the Week honors. He has thrown for a league-best 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns, while only being intercepted three times. He is also fifth in the league in rushing with 230 yards and has another six touchdowns on the ground.
Army also boosts the two top statistical receivers in the league. Tom Jeffers has hauled in a league-best 46 receptions for 585 yards. He is averaging 12.7 yards per reception and has scored eight touchdowns. Army's other top target, Cody Nyp, has caught 31 passes for 533 yards and has a league-best 10 touchdown catches.
Noah Currie leads the team with 40 tackles this season and is currently tied for fourth in the league in that category. Seventeen players have recorded at least 10 tackles this season for Army. Army has also intercepted seven passes this season. J.P. Cooper has three interceptions and was recently named CSFL Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting two passes and recording nine tackles. Mario Turi also has two interceptions in the Army secondary.
Last season, Army handed Penn its only loss of the 2010 season, which caused the two teams to share the CSFL Championship with Navy. In that game, Army jumped out to the 17-7 lead, but Penn cut the Army advantage to 23-21 at the half on the strength of 21 second quarter points. In the second half, Army scored 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and came away with the 36-21 win at Franklin Field.