Sprint Football Downed by Post, 48-27
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PHILADELPHIA - Penn's 48-27 loss to Post in sprint football on Friday night can be defined by two words - big plays.
The Quakers exploded out of the gate, returning the opening kickoff 95 yards in the hands of Whit Shaw to take a 7-0 lead before even 12 seconds had run off the clock. Post, however, answered with an even longer kickoff return, talking the ensuing kick 97 yards for a tying touchdown 27 seconds into the game. From there, it was the battle of big plays - and the edge went to the Eagles for Penn's first loss to Post in sprint football play.
Penn went three-and-out after Post tied the game, leading to the second huge special teams play for Post - a 67-yard punt return by Daniel Awwad which gave the Eagles the ball at Penn's 6. Two plays later, Dwayne Carter ran in for a six-yard touchdown to give Post a lead it would not relinquish just 3:25 into the contest.
Penn scored its second touchdown near the end of the first quarter, Whit Shaw reeling in an eight-yard pass from Keith Braccia for the second of his three touchdowns in the game. The reception capped a five-play, 26-yard drive which began after Anthony DiBella picked off Carter at midfield and put together a 21-yard return.
The Quakers were besieged by penalties throughout the game, committing 10 total penalties for 81 yards. Four of those penalties came in the second quarter to the tune of 41 yards, and for the game, Penn committed four personal fouls - none bigger than one committed on offense which negated a first down at Post's 15 and led to a missed 34-yard field goal with 1:07 to play in the half.
The missed Kai Peng field goal would have cut into a 28-13 Post lead built on another big play - a 29-yard pass from Carter to Awwad with 4:41 to play in the second half. Awwad was the key cog in the offensive wheel for Post, catching five passes for 122 yards and three touchdowns while also adding 151 yards of special teams returns. Awwad really put Penn in perilous position at the start of the second half, returning the kickoff 36 yards to the Penn 48 and finishing the drive with a 35-yard touchdown catch.
Penn's big-play receiver pulled double duty of his own to try and bring Penn back into the game, starting with a Shaw interception at the Penn two-yard line midway through the third quarter. He returned the pick 17 yards to give Penn some breathing room, and finished the ensuing drive with a patented Shaw long reception -this time a 49-yard catch to close Penn within two touchdowns with plenty of time remaining.
Momentum halted for Penn on Post's next possession thanks to a 46-yard reception by Jay'Len Mahan from Shawn Boose and three plays later a Boose touchdown pass to Awwad from 13 yards out to again put Penn down by 21 points. The Quakers countered with an 8-play, 61-yard drive which was capped by a three-yard Braccia scramble for a touchdown to again close Penn within two touchdowns.
Penn was faced with a touch decision after the touchdown as it trailed by two scores with 12:00 to play. The defense had not been able to stop Post much during the game, so Penn attempted an onside kick which was recovered by Post at midfield. Post marched downfield looking to ice the game, but Anthony DiBella had other intentions, forcing a fumble by Ja'Von Ford at the three-yard line which Matt Pellegrino recovered to give Penn renewed life. The excitement was short-lived, however, as Braccia forced a throw into coverage at midfield which was picked off by Brendan McWeeney at the Penn 32 and returned to the 14. Five plays later, offensive lineman Jacob Pogodzienski jumped on a Ramon Dotson fumble in the endzone to secure the final touchdown of the game for Post.
Outside of the big plays, the team numbers were pretty much even in the game, Penn running 69 plays to Post's 67 with the Eagles gaining 22 first downs to Penn's 21. The key was third down, where Post was 11 of 13 to Penn's 5 of 14.
Whit Shaw caught nine passes for 124 yards, his eighth 100+ yard performance of his career to push his career receiving yard total to 2,183. His 426 yards receiving in 2012 rank fifth all-time in a single season by a Penn receiver - but just third among Shaw's season outputs. Braccia's 227 yards passing are the 15th-most by a Penn signal-caller in program history, and a career-high for Braccia. His 817 yards passing through five games have him sixth all-time in a single season by a Penn quarterback.
Anthony DiBella was again heavily involved on defense, making eight solo tackles as part of a 10-tackle night. He also forced a fumble and came up with one interception. Stu Helgeson had seven solo stops, while Mack Pierson was again busy in the backfield with 2.5 TFL with one sack as part of his seven-tackle night.
The Quakers are now 2-3 this season, and 1-3 inside the CSFL. Penn is back in action next Friday night against Navy at 7 p.m.