Defense Impresses in Spring Game

Spring Game Stats

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PHILADELPHIA - It was an impressive defensive performance at the University of Pennsylvania football team's annual Spring Game on Saturday. The Penn defense had six sacks and three interceptions, and allowed just two field goals on a gorgeous spring afternoon at historic Franklin Field.

A little different than the typical Spring Game, the annual Red vs. Blue Spring Game is a simulated, situational scrimmage between offense and defense. Since its not a traditional Spring Game, the coaching staff has its own scoring system. It includes points for the offense for first downs, big plays (12+ yds), scores, etc. The defense gets points for each drive stop, negative yardage play, turnovers, etc. This year, the defense won decisively.

Under 25-year defensive coordinator, Ray Priore, the Quakers annually rank among the nation's top defenses. If Saturday's Spring Game is any indication, the 2013 season will be much more of the same for the defending Ivy League champions.

The defense forced stops on the first five possessions of the afternoon. Trevor Niemann forced the first turnover of the day with an interception. Safety Mike Laning and defensive back Kevin Ijoma each came up with a pick as well. Meanwhile, Joey Grosso, Tosan Eyetsemitan and Jimmy Lindberg each came up with a sack.

But the offense settled in. Alex Matthews took over under center and converted a third-and-long with a 28-yard connection to Christian Stapleton. On the following play, he found Danny Gallagher for 15 yards to get inside the 20-yard line. Moments later, Connor Loftus had the Penn offense on the board with a 34-yard field goal.

The Quakers also scored on their next possession. Simulating the start of overtime, the offense took over from the 25-yard line. Austin Taps came up with his second sack of the day, but quarterback Ryan Becker found Stapleton for 10 yards to set up Jimmy Gammill's 40-yard field goal.

On the day, Becker completed 3-of-6 passes for 34 yards, while Patton Chillura was 5-of-11 for a team-high 54 yards. Matthews finished 2-of-4 for 43 yards and Andrew Lisa was 2-of-4 for 14. Gallagher was the favorite target with three catches for 33 yards, whileSpencer Kulcsar had two receptions for 30 yards and Stapleton finished with two for 38. On the ground, Mike Elespuru had 22 yards on six carries. Mike Schmall added the final sack for the defense.

Quarterback Billy Ragone, who plans to return for a fifth year, is still recovering from his season-ending ankle injury suffered in the Ivy-title clinching win over Harvard on Nov. 10. Among others that did not play Saturday afternoon were safety Sebastian Jaskowski, linebacker Daniel Davis, wide receiver Ryan Mitchell and running backs Brandon Colavita and Lyle Marsh.

For the third time in the last four years, the Quakers entered the spring as defending outright Ivy League champions. Last year, the offense was in full control. Kulcsar ran for two touchdowns and Ragone was 10-of-12 passing for 144 yards and two more touchdowns as the offense scored six times during the 2012 Spring Game. In 2011, the offense scored four times - three touchdowns and a field goal. Andrew Holland and Conner Scott had the game's highlight with a 50-yard touchdown pass and catch.

The end of the spring season also means the announcement of the team captains. The team will vote in the upcoming week and the official release of the 2013 team captains can then be found at

The Quakers, who recently held a bone marrow drive for the 'Be the Match' registry program, have officially wrapped up their spring practice schedule - just in time with finals fast approaching.

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