PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania used a quick-strike approach in Saturday's 41-14 win against Duquesne Saturday evening at Franklin Field.
The Quakers (1-0) twice scored on one-play drives, added another on a three-play drive after a blocked punt, and got another six points on an interception to put this game away and hand the Dukes (2-1) their first loss of the season. The teams were tied after one quarter, but Penn went on a 27-0 run in the second and third quarters to take the drama out of the game.
Pat McDermott was at the center of Penn's potent offense Saturday. The senior quarterback tied a career high with three touchdown passes -- of 43, 44 and 22 yards -- and added another on a 2-yard rush. He had plenty of help on the day; Sam Mathews gained 64 yards on 13 carries, while Joe Sandberg had 46 on nine rushes and Von Bryant carried eight times for 41 yards. McDermott (10-of-20 for 145 yards) and Bryan Walker (2-of-5 for 19 yards) spread the wealth Saturday, as well, hitting seven different receivers including Mathews (three catches) and Matt Carre (two catches for 66 yards and two TDs) and Dan McDonald (two catches for 53 yards and a TD).
"Our guys came out and were anxious, some of them were almost hyperventilating from excitement. And the heat did not help," said Penn head coach Al Bagnoli. "Looking back, the key to the game was our offensive line. They started to open things up after the first quarter, and we had a lot of more option become available.
"Before the game we had in our minds a few things that we wanted to accomplish," he continued. "We wanted to go out and run the ball so that we could control the clock. I think our defense had to go out and make eight or nine stops in the first quarter. We wanted our offense out on the field moving the chains."
Penn started the game with the ball and was forced to punt, but after holding Duquesne to a three-and-out the Quakers struck immediately when McDermott found McDonald a 43-yard connection and the first points of the 2005 season after just 3:26 had passed on the clock.
Duquesne responded. After holding Penn on its next drive, the Dukes put together a methodical, 13-play, 87-yard drive that ended when Scott Knapp found Conrad Carter for a 20-yard touchdown. Duquesne running backs Jeremy McCullough and James Jacobs carried most of the load during the drive, with a total of eight rushes for 50 yards.
Momentum swung immediately at the start of the second quarter; on the very first play, Duquesne's punt attempt from deep in its own zone was blocked and fell into the hands of Casey Edgar, who ran it back to the Dukes 5-yard line. From there, it took three tries but ultimately McDermott was able to push it to paydirt and give Penn a lead it would not relinquish.
Later in the quarter, Penn put together a lengthy drive of its own to get more points. This time the Quakers took nine plays to go 49 yards, then let Derek Zoch kick a 36-yard field goal that was true. On Duquesne's next possession, Penn was able to hold, and a few timeouts in between allowed them to get the ball back at the Dukes 44-yard line with 28 seconds in the half. While the crowd tried to figure out how many plays the Quakers could run in that time and still score, they took all of one as McDermott found Carre the middle and he ran around the right side for an easy score. That made it 24-7 at the break.
Any hopes Duquesne had of getting back into this thing in the third quarter were quickly squashed when, on the second play from scrimmage, Knapp's pass was intercepted by Michael Johns and returned 29 yards for another Penn TD.
"The interception came on a simply rollout pattern," said Johns. "Our outside linebacker stopped the fullback, and there was pressure on the quarterback and the ball just came right to me."
Derek Zoch kicked another field goal later in the quarter, and McDermott punctuated his day with a 22-yard TD pass to Carre on the first play of the fourth quarter to close out Penn's scoring. Duquesne finally got back on the board midway through the final stanza when Knapp hit Alex Roberson for a 35-yard strike.
"The Duquesne defense was very physical, and it was hard to throw deep on them because their safeties played soft," said McDermott afterward. "Our special teams and defense gave us good field position a lot today, and we were able to get our running game going and open things up."
This article written by Mike Mahoney, Director of Athletic Communications.