Press Conference Quotes
PHILADELPHIA - Outright Ivy League champions. The University of Pennsylvania football team and its 15 seniors left no doubt as to which was the best team in the Ivy League this season, dismantling Cornell, 34-0 at Franklin Field Saturday in front of the 9,018 Quaker faithful that stormed the field in celebration on Senior Day.
With their eighth straight win, the Quakers (8-2, 7-0) clinched the program's Ivy League record 11th outright championship and 14th overall. It also marked the seventh outright championshipfor head coachAl Bagnoli -which is more than any other coach in the history of the Ivy League. This is also Coach Bagnoli's fifth unbeatenIvy season, which ismore than any other program has ever achieved.
In the 116th meeting between the two Ivy rivals, the Quakers also claimed ownership of the Trustees' Cup from Cornellfor the third straight year. The Big Red finished their season at 2-8 overall and 1-6 in Ivy play.
There was no better way for the Quakers defensive unit to finish the season. They claimed their second shut out of the season - the first time a Penn team has done that since 2002 - and held Cornell to just four first downs and 110 total yards (61 ofthose yards cameonCornell's final drive withPenn's starting unit out of the game.)
But it wasn't just the defense that put forth a stellar performance. Penn was dominant in all three phases. It was the Quakers' special teams that made the first move.With 10:41 remaining in the first quarter, linebacker Erik Rask blocked Drew Alston's punt and recovered it on the 3-yard line.On thevery nextplay, running back Lyle Marsh rushed for a three-yard touchdown to put Penn up 7-0.
On Penn's next possession, the offenseput together oneof its fourscoring drives of eight plays or more. JuniorBradford Blackmon's 26-yard rush set upjunior Andrew Samson's 23-yard field goalto cap offthe 65-yard scoring drive with 3:49 left in the first quarter.
Afteranother of Cornell's eight punts, the Quakers started with the ball at the Big Red 45-yard line and, true to fashion on this day, they did not waste the opporunity.It took just four plays to set up junior quarterback Keiffer Garton's first rushing touchdown of the season. The eight yard runput the Quakers up 17-0 with just 1:51 to go in the half.
But the Quakers weren't done yet. The defense forced a quick three-and-out, giving the offense the ball 33 seconds later at their own 33-yard line. The Red and Blue executed the two-minute drill to near perfection. Senior Kyle Olson completed four straight passes, reaching just inside the Cornell 30-yard line. With seven seconds before the half, Samson tacked on a career long 46-yard field goal to give Penn a 20-0 lead going into the half.
To start the third quarter, Cornell punted after three plays. On the ensuing possession, Penn ran nine straight times as Garton, Bradford and sophomore Matt Hamscher totaled 54 yards to reach the Big Red 9-yard line. On the only pass play of the drive, Garton threw a connected with sophomoretight end Luke Nawrocki, to give the Red and Blue a commanding27-0 midway through the quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff Cornell's Rashad Campbell returned the ball to the Penn 6-yard line to all but insure the end of Penn's shut out. How dominant is the Penn defense? Cornell lost21 yards on four plays. The crowd erupted when juniorBrian Wing cameup with a sackon fourth-and-goal.
Penn then marched down the field yet again. With Garton at quarterback hethrew tosenior Kyle Derham for 20 yards on first down, then after six straight running plays, he threw to Derham again - this time floating a perfectly placed pass that hit the senior captain in stride in the end zone. The second touchdown pass of the day putPenn up 34-0 with 1:51 left in the third. Those were the final two catches of Derham's career and pushedhim into a tie for13th all-time inreceptionsat Penn. With 73 career catches he moved past current tight ends coach Mark Fabish on the all-time list.
In the fourth, Cornell made one final push to break the shut out. With Penn's top defensive unit on the bench, the Big Red continued to struggle. Starting from their own 20-yard line,it took the Big Red nine plays to crossmidfield. Once they did so, theyfaced a fourth-and-one from the 30-yard line. They converted, but faced the same situation three plays later. This time, with justover a minute remaining, the Quakers stuffeda rush attempt,ensuring the shut out to the delight of the Quaker fans and sideline.
Penn held the ball for more than 38 minutes, gaining 418 yards of offense. Garton had a game-high 76 rush yards, while Olson had a game-high 88 pass yards. Garton also added 81 yards through the air.Derham's six catches and 89 receiving yards were game highs.
The defense wasn't on the field for long as Rask and senior Kevin Gray led the team with five tackles apiece. In addition to Wing, senior Jonathan Moore and sophomore Jon Saelinger and Jared Sholly each had sacks. Due to yet another great defensive effort, Penn did not trail at any point in its last five games - 27 straight quarters or 333 minutes, 15 seconds of playing time, plus an overtime.
Saturday's championship win was the final game for 15 seniors: Tom Castner, Kyle Derham, Tyler Fisher, Joe Goniprow, Kevin Gray, Eric Jett, Joe Krissel, Marcus Lawrence, Jake Lewko, Brendan McNally, Jonathan Moore, Kyle Olson, Matt Schaefer, Bryon Wolf and Chris Wynn.
They leave Penn as defending Ivy League champions heading into the 2010 season.
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