Football Ventures to Fordham on Saturday

The Penn-Fordham Series—8th Meeting
A relatively short-lived series despite the storied histories of the two programs, Penn and Fordham will meet for just the eigth time today. The Quakers won the first five meetings in the series, but have dropped the last two — including a heartbreaker at Franklin Field last year. The Red and Blue spotted the Rams a 28-3 lead midway through the second quarter, but had stormed back to tie the game, 45-45, on a Ryan Kelly 13-yard touchdown catch with 1:46 left in regulation. However, Fordham would come right back and drive to the Penn 14-yard line before kicking a 31-yard FG with 0:08 left to escape with a 48-45 win. At Jack Coffey Field, the Quakers are 2-1 all-time. Last time in the Bronx, Penn was handled, 60-22, in 2014.

Quakers Coaches Join With "Coach To Cure MD"
Once again, the Penn Football coaching staff will join coaches around the contry in the annual "Coach to Cure MD" awareness weekend to help raise money to support fundraising efforts to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The Red and Blue will help #TackleDuchenne by sporting ptaches on their gameday attire. Fans interested in joining the fight can do so at or by texting the word CURE to 90999.

Last Time Out
- Penn was on fire in the first half of its season opener, racking up 320 yards of offense and 28 points.
- A 28-28 halftime tie with Lehigh was broken squarely in favor of the Mountain Hawks as Lehigh scored the only 21 points of the second half and outgained Penn, 275-67, in the final two quarters of play.
- Justin Watson had eight catches for 133 yards — his eighth career 100-yard game. He also scored two touchdowns.
- Alek Torgersen was threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more — leading the team in rushing with 86 yards.
- Hunter Kelley punted five times for an average of 51.4 yards ­— going 50+ on four of five punts with a long of 60.

About the Rams
The Rams are 1-1 entering today’s game, but who they really are as a team might be up for debate. The loss? A 52-16 defeat at Navy. The win? A 83-21 romp over Division II Elizabeth City State. Today will be Fordham’s first game of 2016 against an FCS opponent. It all starts with Chase Edmonds. The 2015 first-team STATS FCS All-American was fourth in the National Offensive Player of the Year voting last year when he was third in the NCAA in rushing yards (1,648) and fourth in rushing TDs (20). This year, he has averaged 6.6 yards-per-carry on 34 rushes. Kevin Anderson has thrown for 5 TDs in two games — 4 against Elizabeth City. Opponents are averaging 385.0 yards against Fordham through two games, with the results split as you would assume — Navy had 550 yards (451 on the ground) while Elizabeth City State had 220 total yards. The secondary had four picks against ECSU. Makay Reed — who had the game-winning FG at Franklin Field last year —is 5-for-5 on FGs and 12-for-12 on PATs this season. Joe Pavlik has punted four times — three have landed inside the 20. Andrew Breiner is in his first season as head coach at Fordham after four years  as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. In four years as OC, Breiner guided the Rams to program records in rushing offense and scoring.

Road Openers
Last year, Ray Priore dropped his first road opener as head coach, 42-21, at Lehigh. As a program, Penn will be looking to end an 0-9 run in road openers dating back to the 2007 season. Penn’s last win in its first road contest of a season came at Lafayette in 2006 — a 21-11 win over the #22 Leopards.

Random Rushing Leaders
Alek Torgersen led the Quakers in rushing yards last week, gaining 86 on 13 carries. That marked the third time in the last four games that a non-RB has led the Red and Blue in rushing yards. Justin Watson had 100 at Harvard (11/14/15) and Torgersen gained 96 against Princeton (11/17/15).

Torgersen on Target
In 696 career passing attemptes, Alek Torgersen has thrown just 14 interceptions — and 11 of those came during the 2014 season. In his last 11 games, Torgersen is 179-for-265 (67.5%) with three interceptions. He has gone 46 attempts without an interception after going 162 attempts without an interception over parts of nine games last season.

Captain Vhito 
Five-year old Vhito DeCapria became the first captain of Ray Priore’s tenure in April of 2015, and enters 2016 1-for-1 in terms of Ivy League championships! Vhito signed his letter of intent to join and lead the Penn Football team at a press conference in the Directors Room of the Dunning Coaches Center. Vhito was diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT) in April of 2014 and has been through numerous radiation treatments since that time. ATRT is a rare cancer, but Vhito persevered through a survival rate of just 17 percent and was declared cancer free by his doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Aug. 21, 2015. Vhito and the Quakers are part of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. 

Vhito’s Co-Captains
A trio of Quakers will join five-year-old Vhito DeCapria as captains of the 2015 Quakers. Seniors Cameron Countryman, Nick Demes, and Donald Panciello have been named captains for the 141st season of Penn Football. Countryman, a fifth-year wide receiver, has played in 27 games during his career and is a two-time Ivy League champion. Nick Demes, an honorable mention offensive lineman in 2015, has appeared in 28 of a possible 31 games over his four seasons. A big-play specialist, Donald Panciello has played 26 games at linebacker and earned honorable mention All-Ivy distinction last year.

Penn has two fifth-year players entering 2016 in search of a third Ivy League championship — Cam Countryman and Jimmy Gammill. The school record-holder with five made field goals in 2014 at Fordham, Gammill is 63-of-65 on PATs in his career.

Leading Indicators
Penn protected leads as well as anyone in the country last season. The Red and Blue were 5-0 when leading at halftime, and 6-0 when leading at the end of the third quarter.

NCAA Record
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 1,365th in the Red and Blue’s illustrious history. Penn is one of only four programs to pass 1,300 games, and was the first to hit that mark on Oct. 31, 2009 in an overtime win at Brown.

Schoenauer: Ram Tough
Last year against Fordham, Brian Schoenauer was ready to go rush for rush with Chase Edmonds. Schoenauer had a career day, carrying the ball 22 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns.

Sack Lunch
Penn’s defense struggled in the opener, but a meeting with Fordham could bring reminders of some success from last year. Yes, the Quakers gave up 48 points last year against the Rams, but the defense had 7 sacks — a game high from 2015 — and recovered a fumble. 2015 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Drake had four of those sacks, but Cooper Gardner, Tayler Hendrickson, and Brandon Mills each had one. Sam Philippi had the fumble recover.

Look, Ma! We’re On TV!
A nation’s eyes will be on the defending Ivy League champions as the Quakers will make a program-record six national television appearances as announced by the Ivy League as part of the Ancient Eight’s largest-ever national television package. Penn will appear on NBC Sports Network three times in 2016 – most of any Ivy League team and most for a Penn team since doing so in both 2011 and 2012.
National TV Appearances
Sept. 30 at Dartmouth (NBCSN)
Oct. 15 vs. Columbia (One World Sports)
Oct. 21 at Yale (NBCSN)
Nov. 5 at Princeton (American Sports Network)
Nov. 11 vs. Harvard (NBCSN)
Nov. 19 at Cornell (Fox College Sports)

Torgersen Tidbits
Alek Torgersen is making a full-on assault on the program’s record books as he enters his senior season. Of the six major passing statistics the program tracks, Torgersen ranks No. 3 all-time for a career in three, No. 4 in two, and is No. 2 in one. With 9 games left in his career, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he sets all six. 

What to Watch For With Watson
The 2015 runner-up for Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year and a unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection, Justin Watson has taken the Ivy League by storm in his first two seasons at Penn.

He has also garnered the attention of national pundits:
2015 STATS FCS Third-Team All-American
2016 STATS FCS Second-Team Preseason All-American
2016 STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year Watch List

Watson’s 2015 season was one of the finest seasons by a Penn receiver in program history:
He led the Ivy League in receptions (74), receiving yards (1,082), and receiving touchdowns (nine)
He ranked No. 5 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game.
He ranked No. 11 nationally in receiving yards.
He ranked No. 14 nationally in receiving touchdowns.
1,082 receiving yards rank No. 2 all-time in a single season by a Quaker.
Two-time Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week (9/27, 11/16)
STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Week (11/14)