Ivy League Award Winners
PHILADELPHIA - For the third time this season, members of the University of Pennsylvania football team have been awarded Ivy League Player of the Week honors. This week, Penn players took home two of the four awards issued to outstanding performances within the conference. On Monday, the league office announced sophomore linebacker Erik Rask as the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week and freshman punter Scott Lopano as the Ivy League Rookie of the Week. The awards come on the heels of the Quakers’ 27-13, defense-oriented victory at Columbia.
Rask anchored an impressive Penn front seven that held the Lions to negative-20 yards rushing and 11 first downs on the day. The second-year linebacker led the team with six tackles, while also contributing two big drive-stalling plays late in the game.
With Columbia trailing by just eight points in the third quarter, and driving into Penn territory, Rask chased down quarterback M.A. Olawale for a 12-yard sack on third down-and-short, forcing the Lions to punt. In the fourth quarter, with the Quakers leading 24-13, and Columbia driving deep in Penn territory, Rask hauled in an interception on fourth down that all but sealed the deal on the Quakers’ second Ivy League win of the season.
While the defense helped out the offense by creating seven turnovers that led to 17 points, Lopano made life easier on the defense. His 44.6-yard average on six punts ensured that Penn dominated the field position battle and gave the defense plenty of room to work with. The freshman’s six punts included two that were downed inside the Columbia 20-yard line, one of which traveled 73 yards. Lopano also showed some finesse with a 48-yard punt from the 49-yard line. The ball rolled to a stop inside the Columbia one-yard line and directly led to a field goal that gave the Quakers a more comfortable two possession lead.
Lopano’s good placement and hangtime prevented Columbia's star return man Austin Knowlin from returning all but two of the punts in the game. The rookie also helped extend a Penn drive late in the first quarter, when he drew a roughing the kicker penalty.
Lopano joins Billy Ragone and Lyle Marsh as the third Penn freshman to earn the Ivy League Rookie of the Week distinction in 2009. As a testament to the Quakers’ young depth, Penn’s four Ivy League Player of the Week selections this year have been received by four different players, all of which have less than two years of college football experience.
Penn returns to Franklin Field this Saturday, when they take on the visiting Yale Bulldogs in an Ivy League match-up. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m. and the game can be seen locally on the Comcast Network.