PHILADELPHIA - Could Penn be a trap game for Harvard this weekend? The Quakers are coming in off a win over rival Princeton, and can get back to .500 in the League with a victory today. The Crimson, meanwhile, need to win this game if they want to go into The Game (Yale) next weekend unbeaten in conference play.
Penn (3-5, 2-3) at Harvard (6-2, 5-0)
Nov. 10, 2007 * 12:30 p.m.
Harvard Stadium (Cambridge, Mass.)
Radio: WFIL 560 AM (Matt Leon, Hench Murray)
Penn Game Notes (PDF)
Harvard Game Notes (PDF)
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 Harvard game will air on WFIL 560 AM). Every game will also be streamed live at PennAthletics.com. 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-game, halftime and post-game shows. This weekend’s halftime guest is Penn’s second-year John R. Rockwell Head Coach of Men’s Basketball, Glen Miller.
The Penn Sports Network
Every Penn home football game and several road games -- including this weekend’s game at Harvard -- can be viewed or listened to live or archived online at PennAthletics.com 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.
What kind of a season has it been for Penn? Consider that two weekends ago the Quakers gained 472 yards of total offense and lost at Brown; last weekend, against Princeton, they gained 264 yards and won. Crazy. The bottom line is the Quakers were officially eliminated from the Ivy title chase last weekend, but a win today will push them to .500 in League play and move them closer to .500 overall. No Al Bagnoli-led Penn team has finished below .500 in a season. (the 1997 team went 6-4 but had five of those wins overturned due to use of a player later deemed ineligible)
Harvard, meanwhile, can be excused if they are looking ahead -- if the Crimson win, and Yale defeats Princeton, they will meet in “The Game” next weekend both unbeaten in Ivy play. Perhaps saving them from overlooking the Quakers is the fact that Penn knocked them off last year at Franklin Field.
Where Penn players stand in the Top 50 of the NCAA’s FCS national statistics...
* Sophomore Chris Wynn is tied for sixth with 0.63 interceptions per game. (he is also 63rd with 22.69 yards per kickoff return)
* Senior Joe Sandberg is 17th with 113.29 rushing yards per game, 43rd with 7.71 points per game, and 47th with 129.43 all-purpose yards per game.
* Senior Braden Lepisto is 44th with 5.13 receptions per game.
Some notes from last weekend’s 7-0 win over Princeton at Franklin Field...
*It was the lowest-scoring game in the rivalry since before the Quakers and Tigers were Ivy League members: you have to go all the way back to a 7-0 Princeton win on Oct. 8, 1955.
*According to the Ivy League office, it was the lowest-scoring conference game since Sept. 19, 1998 -- when Princeton shut out Cornell, 6-0 -- and the second-lowest scoring Ivy game in the last 20 years.
*The last time Penn shut out Princeton was Oct. 27, 1973 (a 24-0 win).
*It was the 11th shutout by a Penn team in the Al Bagnoli era -- with eight of those against Ivy teams -- and the first since a 16-0 win over Columbia last season.
*It was the fewest points scored by Penn in a win in the Bagnoli era. In fact, the last time the Quakers scored seven or fewer points and won a game was Nov. 12, 1977 (a 7-3 win over Dartmouth).
*Penn has played just three other Ivy League games with so few (or fewer) points since the conference began formal play in 1956 -- and they all came against the same opponent, and all within a five-year span. On Oct. 3, 1964, the Quakers lost 3-0 to Brown; on Oct. 21, 1961 and Oct. 2, 1965, the Quakers and Bears played 7-0 games -- both won by Penn.
*Penn and Princeton combined for 526 yards of total offense -- and 767 yards in punts.
Player of the Week Honors
Junior defensive back Britton Ertman earned Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honors after making arguably the biggest defensive play in a game full of them Saturday. With the Tigers deep in Quaker territory and the game still scoreless, Ertman picked off a Greg Mroz pass at the goal line and returned it 38 yards to get Penn out of trouble. Ertman also recovered an onside kick on the day, and finished with four tackles and a pass breakup.
No Average Joe
Perhaps the only highlight Saturday was senior running back Joe Sandbergthe first-team All-Ivy pick a year ago ran for 158 yards on 30 carries, and caught a game-high six passes for 54 yards. In all, he accounted for 212 of the Quakers’ 264 yards of offense (80.3 percent). By comparison, everyone else credited with a rush in the Penn-Princeton game was credited with 47 carries for 85 yards. Oh, and Sandberg also scored all the points in the game, with a 26-yard scamper early in the third quarter.
In the three weeks before Brown -- where he hurt his elbow and was forced to sit after nine rushes for 46 yards -- Sandberg had 69 rushes for 424 yards (6.2 average) and six TDs. He set a career benchmark with 197 yards on 22 carries at Columbia, scoring four times. Against Yale, he had a career-high 34 carries for 110 yards, and also threw for a touchdown (the second time he has done that in his career). During the Yale contest, Sandberg crashed Penn’s 2,000-yard list in career rushing, becoming the 10th Quaker to do so.
Career Rushing Yards
1. Kris Ryan (1998-2001) 3,181 yards
2. Bryan Keys (1987-89) 3,137
3. Terrance Stokes (1992-94) 2,717
4. Sam Mathews (2003-05) 2,529
5. Rich Comizio (1984-86) 2,479
6. Jim Finn (1995-98) 2,251
7. Joe Sandberg (2005-present) 2,234
8. Jasen Scott (1993-96) 2,224
Moving Up The Lists
Senior wide receiver Braden Lepisto had two catches for 14 yards vs. Princeton; he is now tied for eighth on Penn’s all-time list in career receptions (93) and tied for 11th in career receiving yards (1,156).
6. Colin Smith, 102
7. Rick Owens, 95
8. Braden Lepisto, 93
8. Matt Carre, 93
Career Receiving Yards
8. Karl Hall, 1,230
9. Colin Smith, 1,211
10. Joe Phillips, 1,185
11. Braden Lepisto, 1,156
11. Rick Owens, 1,156
Some notes from Penn’s 31-17 loss at Brown two weeks ago...
*Bryan Walker tied his own school record, set earlier this year, when he attempted 60 passes. Walker completed 36 of them for a career-high 339 yards, the 14th-best passing day by a Penn quarterback in program history. It was the best single-game performance since Robert Irvin had 365 passing yards last year at Princeton.
*Braden Lepisto had 10 catches for a career-high 141 yards, the second time this season he has had double-figure receptions in a game (he had 11 at Villanova). Amazingly, only one other player in Penn history has accomplished that featMiles Macik had a pair of such games in 1993, and again in 1995.
Behind Penn’s Numbers
How dominant were Penn’s performances in its wins over Georgetown and Columbia? Consider these numbers...
* The 59 points scored against Columbia marked the most ever scored by Penn against the Lions, and the most in any game since the 2004 season opener when the Quakers scored 61 at San Diego. It also matched the most points scored by Penn against an Ivy League opponent since the start of formal Ivy play in 1956. (the Quakers also scored 59 against Cornell on Nov. 22, 2003)
* Penn scored 45 points in the opening half against the Lions, an impressive figure made more so when you realize that, in the 153 games Al Bagnoli has coached at Penn, his team has reached that total in a full game just 13 times.
* The 45 first-half points marked the most scored by the Quakers in any half since Oct. 8, 1994, when they dropped 45 on Holy Cross in the first half of an eventual 59-8 victory here at Franklin Field.
* When Penn scored 28 first-quarter points against Georgetown, it marked the most points scored by the Quakers in a quarter since that blowout win over Cornell in 2003. Of course, Penn did it again the next week, putting 28 on Columbia in the second quarter.
* Penn scored 101 points in the two games; to find the last time the Quakers scored that many in consecutive games, you would have to go back to 1946, when they scored 66 in the season opener against Lafayette and then dropped 39 the next weekend against Dartmouth for 105 combined points.
Senior quarterback Bryan Walker was one half of a QB horror show when Penn played at Villanova on Sept. 22, throwing two of the team’s seven interceptions that night. You think he learned his lesson? He proceeded to throw 111 passes after that without getting picked off, before his fourth attempt against Yale was picked (the first of three interceptions by the Bulldogs).
So where is Robert Irvin, last year’s starter? Off-season surgery did not seem to fix problems he was having in his throwing arm, and he has been shut down for the remainder of the season. Having played in just two games, he is qualified to take a medical redshirt and regain this year of eligibility. Sophomore Brendan McNally is now listed as the backup on the two-deep; he completed his first pass as a collegian last weekend vs. Princeton, after having his first attempt picked off at Columbia.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Take a look at Penn’s scoring summary from the Columbia game...
CONVENTIONAL: Running back Joe Sandberg rushed for four touchdowns -- the second time he has done that in his career -- and Walker threw for two, to Josh Koontz (his first collegiate TD) and Braden Lepisto.
UNCONVENTIONAL: Safety Jordan Manning picked up a blocked field goal and returned it 62 yards to paydirt -- the first time a Penn player has done that since Stephen Faulk against Cornell in 2001 -- and sophomore Tyler Fisher returned a kickoff 96 yards for a score (the first time a Penn player has done that since Chris Wynn last year against Brown).
The Quaker Clipper?
Not to upset fans of Joltin’ Joe, of course, but the name fits for freshman running back Michael DiMaggio. He was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week following the Georgetown game, when he rushed for 49 first-quarter yards (including a 38-yard score for his first collegiate TD). He finished that game with 11 carries for 85 yards, and has established himself as Sandberg’s backup in the running back spot.
Pick Your Poison
Go ahead, kickers -- kick it to Tyler Fisher on kickoffs. He is averaging nearly 35 yards on nine returns so far this year, highlighted of course by a 96-yard TD at Columbia. Don’t like that option? Then try Chris Wynn; he is averaging 22.7 yards on 16 returns, but has the ability to break the big one as well (witness last year’s 98-yard for a score against Brown). Two weekends ago at Brown, Marcus Lawrence got his shot on kickoff returns and went 48 yards on his only opportunity. Good luck!
Eight different Penn players have picked off opposing passes this season, led by Wynn who has five. The others are Pat Kimener (2), Jordan Manning, Joey Brown, Jay Colabella, Tyson Maugle, Mark Washington and Britton Ertman (whose goal-line pick against Princeton saved a touchdown in a game Penn would win, 7-0).
The Luck Has to Change
Penn is just 8-10 the last two seasons, but think about those 10 losses. Chronologically...
* 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).
(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.
* A 34-14 loss at Villanova in a game Penn led 14-10 at halftime and trailed just 20-14 after three. Talk about giving it away; the Quakers threw seven interceptions and had eight turnovers, which the Cats converted into all their points.
* A 21-13 loss at Dartmouth on Sept. 29, when Penn drove the length of the field toward a potential game-tying score, but a fourth-down pass in the end zone was called incomplete after a discussion by the officials.
* A 26-20, triple-overtime loss to undefeated Yale, where Penn appeared to score the tying touchdown in the third overtime on fourth down, only to have the officials call ineligible man downfield (Penn started the play from the 1-yard line). On the replay, the Quakers threw an incomplete pass, giving the Bulldogs the win.
* A 31-17 loss at Brown in which Penn gained 472 yards of offense, but gave up an interception return for a TD and fumbled the ball at its own 4-yard line in the final minute of the half (Brown scored on the next play).
Penn head coach Al Bagnoli called the Quakers’ 21-13 loss at Dartmouth on Sept. 29 one of the wackiest games he has ever seen from a statistical standpoint. And he has a point. Penn lost despite running 93 plays (33 more than the Big Green) and holding a nearly six-minute edge in time of possession. The Quakers gained 406 yards on offense (to Dartmouth’s 344). They did not turn the ball over, while the Big Green had three giveaways. Finally, Penn was in the red zone a staggering seven times, compared to just once by Dartmouth. Yet it was the Quakers who were scrambling at the end to make a game of it -- down, 21-6, they intercepted a Big Green pass with 2:37 on the clock, scored just 20 seconds later, then recovered an onside kick and drove down to the Big Green 6-yard line. On fourth down, a pass play into the end zone looked like it might be complete, which would have made the score 21-19. However, after a conference the officials ruled no catch on the play.
Walker? More Like Thrower
Senior quarterback Bryan Walker was known more for his rushing ability heading into Penn’s Sept. 29 game at Dartmouth, and he did not disappoint with 61 yards rushing on 11 carries. However, it was his arm that broke a record -- he threw 60 passes, breaking the old Penn mark of 55 set by Pat McDermott in 2004 against Bucknell. Walker completed 30 of his passes for a career-high 266 yards, and threw a TD pass to his former Agoura Hills high school teammate, Braden Lepisto.
Braden in Bunches
Speaking of Lepisto, he had a career game at Villanova on Sept. 22. The senior caught 11 balls, a career high and tied for ninth on Penn’s single-game list (along with Miles Macik, who had 11 catches against William & Mary on Oct. 14, 1995). The record for most catches in a game by a Penn player is 15, set Nov. 23, 2002 by Rob Milanese against Cornell. Lepisto also gained 123 yards, just shy of his career high (140, set last year at Bucknell).
Spreading it Around
Bryan Walker has certainly found a number of targets with his passes this season. Against Brown, for example, 11 different players caught passes, including two who had receptions longer than 20 yards and five others who had a long of at least 10 yards. At Dartmouth on Sept. 29, nine different players caught passes, and seven had a long play of at least 12 yards.
Giving It The Boot
Freshman Andrew Samson recovered from his first collegiate game in a big way. After going 0-for-2 on field goals in the season opener against Lafayette -- including one that rang off the right upright -- Samson has hit six field goals, including a 45-yarder at Dartmouth and a 43-yarder against Yale. He also knocked home a 23-yard FG in overtime against the Bulldogs. Samson’s 45-yarder vs. the Big Green was the longest by a Penn kicker since Evan Nolan drilled a 49-yard attempt at San Diego on Sept. 18, 2004. At the end of the Dartmouth game, Samson was also called upon for Penn’s onside kick attempt, and he successfully bounced it off a Big Green player for the Quakers to recover and drive for a potential game-tying score.
The “other” Penn school up the road -- Penn State -- may lay claim to the title, but the Quakers can certainly boast their share of great backers through the years. The latest great is Joe Anastasio, who is picking up where he left off a year ago -- after gobbling up 102 tackles last year, the most by a Penn player since 1997, he has a team-high 61 through eight games in 2007 including 6.0 tackles for loss. His linebacker mate, Jay Colabella, has filled the defensive box score this season with 36 tackles (5.5 TFLs), 2.5 sacks, a blocked kick, a forced fumble, two pass breakups, and an interception.
Penn’s two safeties -- free safety Pat Kimener and strong safety Jordan Manning -- have also stood out on the defensive side. Kimener is third on the team with 47 tackles and has two interception (for 34 yards) and five pass breakups. Manning, meanwhile, is fourth with 46 stops (including three tackles for loss) and has three pass breakups, an interception, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown (off a blocked field goal at Columbia).
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 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 blue home 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 home 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 has been the arrival of new offensive coordinator Bill Schmitz, who implemented a new-look offense. While the run game has not changed much, Penn has primarily operated out of a no-huddle shotgun attack.
Next Time Out
Penn closes out the 2007 season with its annual Trustees’ Cup game against Cornell. Kickoff at Franklin Field is slated for 1 p.m.
Download: Harvard notes (Penn).pdf