PHILADELPHIA - Junior linebacker Donald Panciello scooped up a fumble and returned it 90 yards for a game-changing, fourth-quarter touchdown on Thursday night. It helped vault the University of Pennsylvania football team to a historic victory over No. 4 Villanova, and earned Panciello National Defensive Player of the Week honors from College Sports Madness on Sunday.
Several other Ivy League and national honors will be announced on Monday and Tuesday in which Panciello is also a candidate.
Panicello and the Quakers earned the program's first-ever road win over a Top 5 ranked opponent, its first win over Villanova since 1911, and head coach Ray Priore's first career victory.
Panciello also led Penn with eight tackles - seven solo - and had a pass breakup, but his fumble return touchdown was the play of the game. With seven minutes remaining, Penn led 17-7, but the host Wildcats had 1st-and-goal and were poised to close within a possession. That was until Panciello picked up a fumble and sprinted 90 yards to slam the door on one of the biggest wins in school history. The 24-13 victory snapped a 104-year drought to the cross-city rivals.
When Panciello and the Red and Blue return to action on Saturday, 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 availablehere.