VILLANOVA, Pa. - The University of Pennsylvania football team had never beaten a Top-5 team on the road, but that changed on Thursday night as the Quakers stunned No. 4 Villanova out on the Main Line, 24-13.
Penn (1-1) had only two wins against Top 5 teams in program history before Thursday, one in 1940 and one in 2002. This win was no fluke, though -- the gritty Quakers took it to the Wildcats from the start, and had a late answer when it looked like their hosts might be setting up for a comeback victory.
It was the first win for Penn's new George A. Munger Head Coach of Football, Ray Priore. And what a way to do it -- the victory also was the Quakers' first win over Villanova since 1911, and ended a 14-game winning streak by the Wildcats that stretched back to 1980 and included wins each of the last 11 seasons. In the last two years, Villanova had outscored Penn 76-13.
Alek Torgersen finished the night 14-of-22 passing for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Justin Watson, who caught five balls for 87 yards before missing the second half due to injury. Tre Solomon gained 51 yards on 15 carries in the first half, and then Brian Schoenauer came on in the second and carried 16 times for 61 yards.
How it Happened
Penn dominated the first half from the start. The offense took the game's opening drive 75 yards for an early 7-0 lead. Torgersen capped the drive with a 12-yard toss, the first of two first-half touchdown passes to Watson.
The Quakers kept the pressure on the fourth-ranked Wildcats. The defense allowed just two first downs in the first half and 29 total yards. Meanwhile, the offense held the ball for 24:35 of the half (to Villanova's 5:35), racked up 219 total yards and pushed their way into Villanova territory on all five drives.
Penn only capitalized once more on those trips across midfield. A turnover on downs and missed field goal kept it a one-score game into the second quarter. But eventually, Torgersen found Watson again. On 2nd-and-7 from the Villanova 33-yard line, Watson caught the ball around the 25, broke a tackle, stiff-armed another defender, and raced to the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 7:53 left in the half.
As the half was about to expire, the Quakers faced 3rd-and-goal from the Villanova 7-yard line. Torgersen again turned to Watson. His pass floated to the back corner of the end zone and both Watson and the defender fought for the ball. It appeared Watson had possession initially, but then Villanova's defender wrestled it from his hands and the play was ruled an interception. The score remained 14-0 at the break.
Still, Penn carried its momentum into the second half. Freshman Sam Philippi hauled in an interception near midfield, and the Quakers used an 11-play drive to move deep into Villanova territory again. Junior Jimmy Gammill tacked on a 40-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead with 4:14 left in the third quarter.
One of the top-five teams in the nation, Villanova finally put together a drive and made it 17-7 late in the third quarter. The Wildcats then stopped the Quakers' next drive, and looked like they were going to make it interesting midway through the fourth quarter by driving all the way down to Penn's 10-yard line. However, at that point the Quakers forced a fumble, which Donald Panciello calmly picked up and ran down the right sideline 90 yards for the knockout touchdown.
Villanova tacked on a late touchdown to set the final score.
A nine-day break awaits the Quakers after playing their first two games in five days. When the Red and Blue return to action they will welcome Ivy rival Dartmouth to Franklin Field in Penn’s first home game under Coach Priore. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., and the game can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network. Tickets are available here.
Download: Villanova-Penn Final Book.pdf