Penn (0-0) vs. Duquesne (2-0)
Saturday, Sept. 17, 2005
Listen Live at www.pennathletics.com
Games Notes - Penn vs. Duquesne
The University of Pennsylvania opens its 129th season of football today against Duquesne. The Quakers return 40 letterwinners from a season ago, when they went 8-2 overall and 6-1 in Ivy League action.
This season Penn football games can be heard live on ESPN 920 AM and on the Penn Athletics web site www.pennathletics.com. Matt Leon (play-by-play) and Hench Murray (color analyst) return for their third season in the broadcast booth. Brian Seltzer will provide sideline content. The pre-game show begins approximately 30 minutes before kickoff.
Joining Matt Leon and Hench Murray at halftime of this week's broadcast will be Vahe Gregorian. A Penn graduate who was a wide receiver for the Quakers from 1980-82, he has spent the past 17 years as a sportswriter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covering college football and basketball as well as the Olympics.
All eight Ivy League schools have players on active NFL rosters, which makes it the only conference in I-AA that can make that claim.
Penn enters the 2005 season with the best winning percentage for all NCAA Division I-AA schools in the decade of the 2000s. The Red and Blue have won 87.9 percent (51-7) of their games so far this decade. Montana is second on that list, winning 83.3 percent (61-12).
Despite residing in the same state, Duquesne and Penn have faced off only one other time on the gridiron. Penn defeated Duquesne, 51-10, in its season opener against the Dukes in 2003.
Four members of the Penn squad hail from the Pittsburgh area (home of the Dukes) Ric San Doval, Ryan Kwiecinski, Sam Mathews and newcomer Andrew McMillen.
Head Coach Al Bagnoli is just six wins shy of recording 100 victories at the helm of the Red and Blue. In 23 seasons as a head coach, Bagnoli has posted 180 wins, which ranks six among active I-AA head coaches.
The Quakers’ head coach also ranks second among active I-AA head coaches in winning percentage (.773), is the winningest active coach in the Ivy League (69-22), and has the highest winning percentage in the Ivy League (.758).
San Doval returns to the gridiron in 2005 after missing last season due to injury. He is a two-time captain and two-time All-Ivy League honoree. As a junior he led the Quakers in tackles with 86 (42 solo).
During San Doval’s absence, Kory Gedin, a transfer from North Carolina, made a name for himself in a Red and Blue uniform. The junior started seven of nine games last season and ranked second on the team with 61 stops (41 solo).
The signal caller for the Red and Blue this season will again be senior Pat McDermott. McDermott has a full season as the starting quarterback under his belt with 1,995 yards on 159-for-294 passing, which ranked third in the Ivy League in efficiency (121.15). His efforts were ninth best in the Penn record book for passing in a season.
Last season McDermott connected with 16 different receivers in nine games, throwing touchdown passes to five different targets. He completed 33 passes to a running back, six to a fullback and 15 to his tight ends.
In 2003 and 2004 senior Sam Mathews ran his way through the record book as well as down the field. The two-time All-Ivy League running back has 17 career rushing touchdowns after recording seven last season. He stands ninth all-time at Penn in rushing yards (2,199). Mathews averages 4.4 yards per carry and 99.1 yards per game in his Penn career.
McDermott has several other options for ball carriers this season in senior Kyle Ambrogi and junior Von Bryant. Ambrogi appeared in all 10 games, compiling 231 yards on the ground and rushing for 40 or more yards on three occasions. Bryant burst onto the scene in the Quakers opener last season with five carries for 111 yards and a touchdown. He had 19 carries for 151 yards during the season and scored two touchdowns. Junior Joe Sandberg could see action this season after a strong showing in the preseason.
Three senior offensive linemen return for their second season together protecting the Quakers’ signal caller. Tri-captain Don Snyder, Keith Walewski and Greg Williams started in all 10 games last season and allowed just 1.6 sacks per game. Those three, along with juniors Sean Estrada and Marko Grzan, will solidify the ground game and protect the quarterback.
J.J. Stanton is the only returning starter for the defensive line, but that does not mean the Quakers are lacking by any means. Thirteen members of the line return in 2005, including six letterwinners. Ed Villanueva and Scott Hamilton are the only two seniors in this young squad, which includes sophomore Naheem Harris. Harris recorded 18 tackles and 3.0 TFLs in his rookie campaign, during which he also earned Ivy League Defensive Rookie of the Week after recording five tackles (three solo) in Penn’s overtime win against Bucknell.
Matt Carre is just one of several wide receivers who will look to fill the void left by Dan Castles. Castles, who graduated in 2005, is Penn all-time leader in touchdowns with 27. Carre had a breakout junior campaign, catching 21 passes for 308 yards and one touchdown. Sagar Patel and Ryan Pisarri also know how to find open spots on the field, as the duo combined for eight receptions and 120 yards.
All-Ivy League tight end Chris Mizell emerged as a double threat for the Quakers offense last season. The junior is a quality blocker, not only protecting his quarterback but also helping the Penn ball carriers turn the outside corner.
Braden Lepisto has really come into his own this preseason and will be a double threat for the Quakers both as a wide receiver and as a backup placekicker.
Vic Davanzo, Adam Francks, Casey Edgar, Michael Johns, Brad Martinez, Doug Middleton and Kelechi Okere are seven members of the class of 2006 who hold key positions in the defensive backfield for the Red and Blue. Edgar and Johns combined for 95 tackles and nine TFLs en route to honorable mention for All-Ivy League as juniors.
To fill some holes left by Bobby Fallon and Kevin Junge at defensive end, senior Al Wawszcyk moved over from linebacker to fill the void.
Sophomore Derek Zoch returns as the Quakers’ placekicker. Zoch knocked his first career field goal through the uprights from 27 yards out to give Penn a 16-15 win against Princeton. He also made a 24-yarder against Harvard and went 6-for-7 in extra points kick on the season.
Anthony Melillo will fill the void left by first-team All-Ivy League punter Josh Appell.
Duquesne enters this week’s contest with a perfect 2-0 record after defeating Robert Morris, 23-12, in its season opener and Fordham, 30-13, on Sept. 10. Kyle Postell returned a 62-yard interception with four seconds remaining in the first half to give the Dukes a 23-13 lead over Fordham last Saturday. Duquesne went on to shut out the Rams in the second half.
The Dukes will play their first game away from Rooney Stadium on Saturday. Last season, the Dukes went 3-2 on the road with losses at Fordham and Robert Morris.
Redshirt freshman Scott Knapp is making quite an impact in his rookie campaign. Knapp, who made his first career start against Robert Morris, completed 23-of-42 passes - including a 21-yard TD pass - in throwing for a DU freshman-record 365 yards. In addition to setting a new freshman mark, Knapps’ yardage total was also the seventh-best in school history. He earned MAAC Rookie of the Week honors for his performance. He followed his record-setting performance with 265 yards and two touchdowns - including receptions of 65 and 66 yards against the Rams.
DU Passing Attack Knapp has 624 yards in two games, completing 53.8 percent (35-for-65) of his passes and tossing three touchdowns. Knapp has several options to throw to, but so far Bruce Hocker and Alex Roberson have been his more popular targets. Hocker has caught 11 passes for 261 yards and one touchdown, while Roberson has nine catches and 115 yards.
DU Running Game Duquesne has scored two touchdowns on the ground this season, one of them a 2-yard run by Jeremy McCullough against Fordham. McCullough has rushed for 93 yards in two games. James Jacob is another running back who has carried the ball this fall - he has racked up 75 yards and one touchdown in two games.
DU Defensively The Dukes defense has held opponents to 12.5 ppg and caught two interceptions for 79 yards. Harry Carter leads the defense with 17 tackles (10 solo) this season, while Josh Antinopoulos has 14 tackles (12 solo) and 6.0 tackles for a combined loss of 44 yards. Antonie Bullock has 12 tackles (8 solo) and 3.0 tackles for a loss.
DU Special Teams The Dukes have one kickoff returner in Cleodis Williams, who averages 20.2 yards on four returns. David Kovalick has done all the punting this season, averaging 32.1 yards per punt. Mark Troyan is a perfect 4-for-4 in field goals this season, with the longest being a 36-yard field goal against Robert Morris.