PHILADELPHIA -It took a little while, but the Penn football team was able to establish itself on defense and offense and down pesky Bucknell, 21-3, Saturday afternoon at Franklin Field.
The Quakers, who improved to 2-2 on the year, scored early and looked like they might roll to the win, but it wasn't until midway through the fourth quarter that they found paydirt again as Bucknell (3-3) held them at bay.
With its top three quarterbacks all sidelined with injuries, Penn started Saturday's game with sophomore John Hurley under center, and in his first career start he certainly did not start shaky as he completed his first two passes. However, the Quakers employed a little trickery and used an option with wide receiver Kyle Derham - the ball was picked off by Bucknell's Ahkiel White at the Bison 13.
Bucknell went three-and-out, and then Bradford Blackmon returned the Bison punt 24 yards back to the Bucknell 40-yard line. On its second drive, Penn saved the trickeration for the end, capping a nine-play drive with a halfback option that saw Matt Hamscher find Luke DeLuca for a five-yard touchdown pass.
The rest of the half was a stalemate, as both defenses were dominant in a 7-0 game. At the break, Penn led Bucknell in yardage just 114-111, and the Quaker defense bolstered its numbers with an interception (by Jonathan Moore) and a fumble recovery (by Justyn Williams).
The defense stepped up again to start the third, as Josh Powers picked off a C.J. Hopson pass just inside Penn territory and ran it all the way back to Bucknell's 27-yard line. However, three plays yielded just seven yards, and then Andrew Samson was wide left with a 38-yard field goal attempt that kept the score 7-0.
The third quarter provided more offensive stagnation on both sides, but in the final minute Bucknell finally got life when Bryce Robertson picked off a Hurley pass at the Penn 27-yard line. The Penn defense had been strong all day, though, and this occasion was no different. Although the Bison advanced as far the 15-yard line - its only trip in the red zone all day - all they could muster was a 32-yard field goal from Drew Orth that made the score 7-3. The scoring "drive" covered seven plays and just 12 yards.
Nevertheless, the points seemed to stir the Penn offense. Starting at their own 34, the Quakers need just seven plays to drive all the way to the Bucknell 25-yard line. However, it was there that Hurley threw another pick, this time bouncing off one of his own receivers and into the hands of Rob Gerlach at the 8-yard line.
Just as the offense giveth, though, the defense taketh away. On Bucknell's second play of the ensuing drive, Tyler Smith coughed up the ball and Penn's Fred Craig fell on it at the Bison 11. Two plays after that, Blackmon ran in from four yards out and the score was 14-3 with 7:35 left.
Penn's defense held Bucknell to a three-and-out on its next drive, then forced a turnover on downs the drive after that. Given the ball on the Bison 38-yard line, and with just a few minutes left in the game, Penn put together a four-play drive that ended with Lyle Marsh scoring a three-yard rushing touchdown.
Penn gained 264 yards on the day and held Bucknell to 196 (and an average of 2.8 yards per play on the day). Hurley ended the game with 14 completions on 27 attempts for 148 yards. David Wurst and Matt Tuten had three catches each, while five others caught two balls and nine players snared passes in all. Marsh was Penn's leading ground gainer with 39 yards on 17 rushes.
Defensively, Jake Lewko led the way with 11 tackles, and the Quakers came up with three sacks and five tackles for loss in addition to forcing four turnovers.
Penn returns to action next weekend at Columbia, taking on the Lions at Wien Stadium. Kickoff in New York City is slated for 1:30 p.m.
Download: Bucknell Game.pdf