Football Opens Ivy Play on the Road

PHILADELPHIA - Penn has never started 0-3 during Head Coach Al Bagnoli’s 15-year tenure. In order to keep that streak alive, the Quakers must travel to Hanover, N.H. to take on a Dartmouth squad that is also looking for its first win in the Ivy League opener for both teams.

Penn at Dartmouth
Saturday, Sept.29 *12:30 p.m.
Memorial Field (Hanover, N.H.)
TV: None
Radio: WFIL 560 AM/Sirius Satellite Channel 126 (Matt Leon, Hench Murray, Brian Seltzer)

Penn Game Notes (PDF)

Hunting for an Ivy Crown
Penn opens Ivy play today after being selected second in the Ivy League’s preseason media poll, behind Yale and just ahead of Harvard and Princeton. The Quakers picked up 110 voting points overall, including one first-place vote, while Yale had 116 points (14 first-place votes) and Harvard 95 (one first-place). Princeton was picked fourth with 87 voting points.

On the Radio
For the second straight season, all 10 Penn football games will be heard on either WNTP 990 AM or sister station WFIL 560 AM this season (the Dartmouth game will air on WFIL 560 AM). Every game will also be streamed live at Matt Leon (play-by-play) and Hench Murray (color analyst) return for their fifth season together in the booth. This season also marks Murray’s 27th providing color commentary for Quaker broadcasts. Brian Seltzer returns for his fourth season; he will host the pre-sgame, halftime and post-game shows. The pre-game show begins approximately 30 minutes before kickoff. This weekend's halftime guest will be Sean Estrada, who graduated from Penn last year and signed a contract with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers during the summer.

On Sirius Satellite Radio
Sirius Satellite Radio, available to subscribers nationwide, will air an Ivy League Game of the Week for the second straight year, and the Quakers will be heard on the service four times this year (including the Dartmouth game this weekend)—vs. Lafayette, at Dartmouth, at Columbia, and the home game with Princeton.

Five of Penn’s 10 games this year are being televised. In addition to having their first two games aired live, the Quakers’ games at Columbia and with Princeton will air on regional cable network CN8, and the Homecoming game with Yale will be televised nationally on the YES Network as part of the Ivy League package.

The Penn Sports Network
Every Penn home football game and several road games, including this weekend’s game at Dartmouth, can be viewed or listened to live or archived online at thanks to the Penn Sports Network. For a monthly or yearly fee, fans can get video streaming of the football games on Penn’s athletic website; for a slightly smaller monthly fee they can get the “PSN Lite” Package which includes live audio from the games.

Who’s Back For Penn
Penn returns a significant chunk of its 2006 team. Overall, 16 starters return while nine have departed; 37 letterwinners in all are coming back to 16 lost. Ten of Penn’s 18 All-Ivy players also return, including three first-teamers in Joe Sandberg, Naheem Harris and Joe Anastasio.

The Captains
Seniors Joe Anastasio (LB), Nick Cisler (FB) and Patrick Kimener (FS) have been selected Penn’s captains for the 2007 season by their teammates. Anastasio was a first-team All-Ivy selection last year after racking up 102 tackles, while Cisler was an honorable mention All-Ivy. Kimener played in all 10 games last year and finished fourth on the team with 52 tackles.

A New Look
The Quakers are sporting a new look this year with both their helmets and their game jerseys. The helmets, which have boasted the words “PENN” in white for the past several years, remain dark blue; however, they now sport the split P logo that is used by the Department of Athletics. The game jerseys, which used to say “Pennsylvania” but had nothing on the front last year, now have “Penn” in small type above the numbers.

A New Look 2 (Offensively Speaking...)
One of the biggest changes for the Quakers this year will be the arrival of new offensive coordinator Bill Schmitz, who will implement a new-look offense. While the run game, which served the Quakers very well last year, will not change much, Penn will primarily operate out of a quick, no-huddle shotgun attack. With most of the offensive skill personnel returning, it should make for a productive year for the Quakers’ offense.

Saturday’s Game
Penn is looking to recover from an 0-2 start after a pair of frustrating losses. The Quakers fell to Lafayette in their season opener, 8-7, at Franklin Field; last weekend, they threw seven interceptions that allowed Villanova to pull away for a 34-14 victory. Dartmouth, meanwhile, lost its season opener in overtime to Colgate, 31-28, then got outgunned by then-No. 9 New Hampshire, 52-31, last weekend.

The Dartmouth Series
Penn has the upper hand in the series with Dartmouth, leading 41-31-2. This is the 75th meeting between the sides, with the first meeting occurring 111 years ago. The Quakers have won the last nine straight over the Big Green, who have struggled since the game was moved to an early-season match-up in 1990. Since then, Penn has gone 13-4 against Dartmouth. Last year, Penn escaped Franklin Field with a 17-10 win as quarterback Robert Irvin threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns, and the Quaker defense intercepted three passes. Irvin, who went 15-of-25 on the afternoon, hit Billy May and Braden Lepisto for touchdown receptions. The Quaker defense was solid, making three red-zone stops, while Tyson Maugle had two interceptions.

Last Time Out
Penn literally gave its game away against Villanova last Saturday, tossing seven interceptions and giving away a fumble. The Wildcats turned those turnovers into all of their points, overtaking the Quakers during the third quarter and pulling away in the fourth quarter of what had been a close game. Penn was led offensively by senior Braden Lepisto, who had a career-high 11 catches for 123 yards. His 11 catches were the most since Dan Castles had 12 against Bucknell on Oct. 9, 2004, and tied Lepisto for ninth on the school’s single-game list (with Miles Macik, who had 11 receptions vs. William & Mary on Oct. 14, 1995).

Scouting the Big Green
Like Penn, Dartmouth is looking for its first win this season under head coach Buddy Teevens, who is in the third year of his second tenure at the College on the Hill (he was also head coach from 1987-91). The Big Green is led by running back Milan Williams, who has 235 yards on 43 carries so far this year. Tom Bennewitz has completed 30 of 56 passes for 284 yards and five touchdowns, with Eric Paul serving as his main receiver (10 catches for 94 yards). Six different players have caught TD passes this season.

The Luck Has to Change
OK, so Penn got beat up by Villanova last Saturday. Think about Penn’s six losses before that, the five the Quakers suffered last year and this year’s season opener. In chronological order...
*A 27-20 loss to Villanova that ended with Penn being stopped on the game’s final play deep in Nova’s zone.
*A 17-14 overtime loss at Yale when Penn missed a field goal in the OT session.
*A 30-27 overtime loss to Brown when Penn missed a field goal, then saw Brown miss a field goal but got called for a penalty which allowed Brown to re-kick (they made).
*A 31-30 double overtime loss at Princeton in which Penn matched Princeton’s touchdown in the second OT, then muffed the extra-point attempt (this, after both teams missed field goals in the first overtime).
(by the way, did we mention all three overtime losses came in consecutive weeks? It set an NCAA record for consecutive OT games)
*A 28-27 loss at Cornell in last year’s season finale; Penn scored late to draw within one, and Coach Bagnoli—not wanting to subject his team to another overtime game—went for two. Penn was stopped.
*An 8-7 loss to start this season, when Lafayette kicked the winning field goal with five seconds left on the clock; it was the Leopards’ only lead all day.

Nationally Speaking
Where Penn players stand in the NCAA FCS national statistics...
*Sophomore Chris Wynn is tied for first with 1.00 interceptions per game.
*Senior Braden Lepisto is third with 9.00 catches and eighth with 103.5 receiving yards per game.
*Juniors Jordan Manning and Jay Colabella are tied for 28th iwth 0.5 interceptions per game.

The Sandberg Show
Senior running back Joe Sandberg’s health will be a key to Penn’s chances today. The senior, who has 1,526 career rushing yards, had 85 on 17 carries during the first half against Lafayette. Then he went down with a leg injury. After sitting out last weekend’s loss at Villanova, he is expected to be back in the starting lineup.

Braden Catching Them in Bunches
Senior wide receiver Braden Lepisto has gotten off to a strong start in 2007. After tying a career high with seven catches in the season opener against Lafayette, he had a career-high 11 catches for 123 yards last weekend at Villanova. Lepisto’s 11 catches were the most since Dan Castles had 12 against Bucknell on Oct. 9, 2004, and tied Lepisto for ninth on the school’s single-game list (with Miles Macik, who had 11 receptions vs. William & Mary on Oct. 14, 1995).

Airing It Out
Seven different receivers caught passes in Penn’s season opener, and eight different players had receptions last weekend. This season, Lepisto has a team-high 18 catches for 207 yards, an 11.5 average. Senior Dan Coleman had three catches against Lafayette in his first significant action since early last season, but sat out last weekend’s game with Villanova. Sophomore Marcus Lawrence had four grabs for 55 yards at Villanova, and is averaging 13.6 yards per reception.

On The Line
The offensive line figured to be a bit of an unknown heading into this season, but the Quakers held Lafayette without a sack last weekend. The Quakers returns two senior starters in the five spots, center Brian Brazinski and left guard Jesse Rigler. Junior Chris Kovalcik, who started a game last year at right guard, will move over one spot as a tackle while sophomore Matt Schaefer steps into the guard position. At the other end, senior Harry Kenning steps in at left tackle.

On The Other Side of the Ball...
Penn returns two All-Ivy starters on the defensive line—in addition to Harris, senior Tom Stone was an honorable mention All-Ivy pick as a defensive tackle a year ago despite not making a start. On the other side, sophomore Joe Goniprow gets the nod.

End Runs
Senior Mike Marinelli will reprise his role at defensive end, and is joined on the other side by classmate Sam McGarity who looks to fill the shoes of graduated All-Ivy pick Jim Malizia.

Linebacker U?
The “other” Penn school up the road—Penn State—may lay claim to the title, but the Quakers certainly boast their share of great ‘backers through the years. The latest great is Joe Anastasio, who gobbled up 102 tackles last year, the most by a Penn player since 1997. He leads the Quakers with 21 stops so far this season. His mate at the position, Jay Colabella, has 10 tackles this season and also came up with an acrobatic interception in the middle of the field against Lafayette, the first of his career. Colabella also leads the team with 1.5 sacks.

The Secondary
How deep is this position for Penn? Take a look at some of the numbers through two weeks. Junior Tyson Maugle has 15 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, two pass breakups and a forced fumble. Sophomore Chris Wynn, in his first collegiate start against Lafayette, made two INTs and had four tackles. Patrick Kimener has 15 stops from his safety position, while Jordan Manning has 13 to go with an interception. Both of them had a pass breakup, as well.

Punt Away
Senior Anthony Melillo returns as a two-time All-Ivy punter; to date, he has 13 kicks, averaging 34.8 yards, and put five of them inside the 20.

Next Time Out
Penn returns home next Saturday against Georgetown for its final non-conference game of the 2007 season.

Download: 07 game 3 - @Dartmouth.pdf