ITHACA, N.Y. Penn may not have won the Ivy League football title, but the impressive 23-6 win amongst some snow flurries Saturday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field featured a school-record, a school-first and head coach Al Bagnoli’s 200th career win.
With their fourth straight road victory, Bagnoli became just the fifth coach in FCS history to reach the 200-win mark. Penn finished the season at 6-4 overall and placed third in the Ivy League with a 5-2 mark. Cornell dropped to 4-6 on the year and 2-5 in the Ancient Eight.
Sophomore kicker Andrew Samson made three field goals, the last being his 16th of the season to set a new school record. Three former Quakers had held the record at 15. It was the third time this season Samson had made three field goals in a game and the fourth time this season that he outscored the opponent by himself.
The record for the West Bloomfield, Mich., native came when he knocked home a season-long 44-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It gave Penn a three possession lead, 23-6 and it gave Samson more field goals in a season than any other Quaker in the team’s 131-year history.
Another milestone was set with 10:13 to go in the first half, junior Chris Wynn picked off a pass at the Cornell 40-yard line, his fifth of the season. With the pick, Wynn became the first Quaker in the Ivy League-era to have reached that number in two consecutive seasons.
Cornell struck first with a 10-play, 40-yard drive on its second possession that resulted in a 32-yard field goal at the 8:50 mark of the first quarter, but Penn immediately responded. With junior Brendan McNally and sophomore Keiffer Garton sharing the snaps at quarterback, the Quakers marched 59 yards for the go ahead touchdown. On the 13th play of the drive, sophomore Luke DeLuca barreled his way into the end zone from one yard out to give Penn a lead it would not relinquish with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter.
One drive later, a wayward punt gave Penn the ball inside the Cornell 30-yard line. Samson helped the Quakers capitalize with what was a then-season-long 40-yard field goal for a 10-3 lead just before the end of the first quarter.
Six plays after Wynn’s interception, sophomore Michael DiMaggio burst through a hole for a season-long run of 37 yards and a 17-3 Penn lead with exactly eight minutes to go in the first half. DiMaggio finished with 126 yards on just 19 carries (6.6 yards per carry).
Junior defensive back Jonathan Moore set up Penn’s final score of the half with his first career interception. His return inside the Big Red 20-yard line set up Samson’s record tying field goal with less than 10 seconds remaining in the half. The 20-3 halftime score marked the most first-half points of the season for the Quakers.
Penn rarely went to the air in the second half, while Cornell managed just a third quarter field goal in the cold weather. In all, Penn ran 67 rushing plays for 282 yards on the ground as the offense held the ball for over 38 minutes. McNally, who took all of the snaps for the Quakers after Garton went limping off the field midway through the first quarter, ran 22 times for 80 yards. The Quakers passed just 12 times in the game for a total of 22 yards.
Penn didn't need to go to the air much though, the defense held its opponent to under 10 points for the sixth time this season, limiting the Ivy League's best offense to 238 total yards. The Big Red managed just 18 yards rushing - 264 less than the Quakers - and an average of just 1.1 yards per rush. Penn forced four turnovers, intercepting one of the league's most prolific passers three times.
Senior Tyson Maugle, playing in his final game, had a team-high nine tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and one forced fumble. Fellow senior Jay Colabella had seven tackles in the finale.
The win over the Big Red was the final game for the Quakers’ 23 seniors. The rest of the Quakers will take to the field in 42 weeks when they open the 2009 season.