No. 9 Football Prepares for Final Stretch Run

Red and Blue enter Homecoming meeting with Princeton riding 13-game winning streak and 17-game home winning streak.

Nov. 4, 2003

One hundred eighty minutes is all that remains in the 2003 campaign, and in the Red and Blue's quest to become the first team in 10 years to win back-to-back Ivy League crowns. As the schedule turns to week eight, the undefeated Quakers find themselves sitting a top the Ancient Eight standings by themselves, masters of their own destiny. Penn's next test in its journey comes from a resurgent-Princeton team at Franklin Field this weekend, a site where the Red and Blue have won 17-straight games.

The Quakers improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Ivy League, as well as extended the nation's second-longest winning streak to 13 games, after a 24-21 decision over Brown in Providence, R.I. last Saturday. The victory was also the Red and Blue's 12th-straight Ivy win as well as their seventh-consecutive road victory.

Four weeks ago, Princeton appeared to be just hanging on life support after starting the season with four-straight losses. However, the Tigers found their pulse in the past three weeks, winning against Brown and Cornell and looking for a win today to stay alive in the Ivy title hunt. Penn has won five straight over Princeton, including two consecutive at Franklin Field.

This week's I-AA polls have the Red and Blue on the move again, as Penn jumped two spots to ninth in the Sports Network/CSTV rankings. It is the highest an Ivy League team has ever been ranked in the Sports Network/CSTV poll. The only other Ancient Eight squad to be ranked ninth in the poll were the Quakers, which came in the Sports Network's 1995 preseason voting. In the USA Today/ESPN I-AA poll, the Red and Blue are ranked 12th.

Pat McManus' interception with 2:38 remaining sealed the Red and Blue's 13th-straight victory, and 12th-consecutive Ivy League win, as Penn defeated host-Brown, 24-21, at Brown Stadium last weekend. For the second week in a row, the Quakers built a huge lead over three quarters en route to the win. The game showcased the Ancient Eight's top two running backs, as number two (Penn's Sam Mathews) put on a clinic for number one (Brown's Nick Hartigan). When the smoke cleared, Mathews rushed for two touchdowns and 173 yards, while the Quakers' defense held Brown to 32 on the ground - the lowest total by an opponent against Penn this season.

Sam Mathews earned his fourth-straight Ivy League Honor Roll nod after recording the first multiple rushing-touchdown game of his collegiate career on 34 carries against Brown. Mathews, who has been recognized on the Ivy Honor Roll five of the season's seven weeks, also added 193 yards on the day, including a game-high 173 on the ground and 20 receiving yards.

It had been five years since a Penn running back rushed for over 100 yards in five-straight games, and last Saturday Sam Mathews became the first member of the Red and Blue since current New York Giant Jim Finn in 1998 to turn the trick. Ever since going over the century mark on the ground in week three against Lehigh, 100 yards a game has been a given for the sophomore tailback who enters this week leading the Ivy League (fifth in I-AA) in rushing with 136.4 yards per game.