PHILADELPHIA – Winning an Ivy League championship requires outstanding efforts from all parts of the lineup, and for the University of Pennsylvania football team its championship season was rewarded with 11 total selections to the All-Ivy team and the selection of Ray Priore as Ivy League Coach of the Year (Full Priore Release Here).
The Quakers were recognized with four first-team All-Ivy selections, including unanimous first-team All-Ivy honors for senior linebacker Tyler Drake and sophomore wide receiver Justin Watson. They were joined on the first team by junior quarterback Alek Torgersen and senior offensive lineman Tanner Thexton.
The Red and Blue’s four second-team All-Ivy selections were senior defensive back Ian Dobbins, senior defensive lineman Lukas Nossem, senior tight end Ryan O’Malley, and junior offensive lineman Daniel Poulos.
Garnering honorable mention All-Ivy recognition for Penn were senior defensive lineman Dan Connaughton, junior offensive lineman Nick Demes, and junior linebacker Donald Panciello.
Penn four first-team All-Ivy selections are the most since the 2012 championship team also earned four nods. The 11 total All-Ivy selections for the Quakers are the most since the 2012 squad picked up 12 All-Ivy awards.
Senior captain Tyler Drake was a force at linebacker for the Quakers this year. A 2014 honorable mention All-Ivy player, he led the Ancient Eight with four forced fumbles, 12.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks. He also finished third with 8.0 tackles-per-game, while tying for third-most on the team with two interceptions. He finished his career sixth all-time at Penn with 17.5 total sacks, and his 8.5 sacks this season were 12th-most among FCS players.
Sophomore wide receiver Justin Watson had a breakout year for the Quakers, leading the Ivy League in receptions (74), receiving yards (1,082), and receiving touchdowns (9). His 1,082 receiving yards made him just the third Penn player to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in a single season and ranked seventh this season among FCS receivers. He averaged 108.2 yards-per-game this season, fifth among FCS players, and he finished 2015 with seven 100-yard games – just the fourth Ivy Leaguer to do so. He finished the 2015 campaign with five consecutive 100-yard games, just the third Ivy Leaguer to go over 100 yards in five straight contests.
Watson is the first Penn wide receiver to earn unanimous first-team All-Ivy honors since Dan Castles in 2003.
Starting for his second full season, Alek Torgersen finished with 19 touchdowns through the air – the second-highest mark in the Ivy League – and he added six more on the ground. His 69.1 completion percentage was best in the conference by over eight points and second among all FCS quarterbacks. Over nine games and 236 passing attempts, Torgersen threw just a league-low three interceptions – and just one in 172 attempts during Ivy League play. He accounted for 16.7 points-per-game, tops in the Ivy League and 10th in FCS. The junior is now fourth all-time at Penn in passing yards (4,794), touchdowns (35), pass attempts (667), and total offense (5,310).
Tanner Thexton started all 10 games on the line in his senior year, part of a unit that allowed only 12 sacks and opened the door to Penn’s 169.2 rushing yards per game, second best in the league.
With three interceptions on the season, senior defensive back Ian Dobbins finished tied for fifth in the Ivy League in addition to recording 48 tackles and four pass breakups on the year.
Lukas Nossem finished the year with 3.0 sacks, third-highest on the team, and added 23 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble to earn his first career All-Ivy selection.
Starting all 10 games in his senior campaign, tight end Ryan O’Malley nabbed 20 catches for 202 yards and three touchdowns. 143 of his receiving yards and two of his touchdowns came in Ivy League play, helping O’Malley earn second-team All-Ivy honors for the second consecutive season.
Daniel Poulos, a junior who started nine games this season, was part of a unit that allowed only 12 sacks and blocked for a Penn rushing attack which accounted for 169.2 rushing yards per game, second best in the league, and 20 rushing touchdowns.
Starting all 10 games in his senior campaign, tri-captain Dan Connaughton logged 22 tackles and 2.0 sacks as part of a defensive line which led the league – and ranked No. 17 among FCS programs with 29 sacks.
Nick Demes, a junior who started all 10 games this season, was part of an offensive line which allowed only 12 sacks – second-best among Ivy schools – and opened the door to Penn’s 169.2 rushing yards per game, second-best in the league.
Donald Panciello, a junior linebacker, was second on the team with 61 tackles and 7.0 tackles for loss. He also added a fumble recovery – which he returned 90-yards to help seal an upset victory over No. 5/4 Villanova in September – and a blocked kick against Princeton that saved the Quakers’ title hopes.
The finalists for the Asa S. Bushnell Cup Awards for Ivy League Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year will be named on Tuesday, December 1. The 2015 winners will be announced at the Bushnell Cup Presentation on Monday, December 7.