PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania’s sprint football team will begin 2016—its 85th season of action—with a trip to Mansfield on Saturday night. The Quakers and Mountaineers will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Karl Van Norman Field.
*How to Watch
Saturday night signifies the Mountaineers’ annual “Light Up Mansfield Again (LUMA)” game, which celebrates the world’s first night football contest, held in Mansfield in 1892. The 7 p.m. kick-off will streamed live on ESPN3, and ESPN Radio. Fans can also follow the game on Mansfield’s live stats.
*Series vs. Mansfield
Three of the last four matchups between Penn and Mansfield have been decided by three points or less, with the Quakers coming out on top each time. In fact, the Red and Blue’s wins in 2012 (16-13), 2014 (14-13), and 2015 (16-13) are the three tightest victories for Penn during the past eight seasons. Penn is a perfect 8-0 against Mansfield since the Mountaineers made their CSFL debut in 2008.
The reigning CSFL MVP, Mike McCurdy, returns for his senior season with the Red and Blue. McCurdy became Penn’s first Player of the Year in the league since 2010 after leading the CSFL in both total offense (1,625 yds) and passing yards per game (216.1). In addition, he paced the league in passing (13) and rushing touchdowns (7). McCurdy was named the CSFL Offensive Player of the Week on Nov. 29 after throwing for 345 yards and four scores against Post on Nov. 26. McCurdy enters his final year just 350 yards shy of Penn’s all-time passing record, currently sitting with 4,073 career yards through the air.
*Red and Blue Returners
In addition to McCurdy, the Quakers have six other returning players who received CSFL postseason honors last season. Max Jones and James Juliano were named to the league’s first team, while Sam Smallzman and Marcus Jones each earned second-team accolades. Chris Colavita and Quinn Karam rounded out the achievements, receiving honorable-mention honors.
Max Jones ranked fourth in the CSFL last season in rushing yards per game (77.0), and fifth in the league in touchdowns (6). On the defensive side of the ball, Juliano led the Quakers with 58 tackles and nine tackles for loss. He also added a pair of interceptions and a fumble recovery. Diorio piled up 17 tackles, a forced fumble and a team-high three interceptions. Smallzman led the squad with seven sacks (third-best in the CSFL), while also adding 38 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. Marcus Jones led the CSFL with four fumble recoveries, while his 5.5 sacks were fifth in the league.
Head Coach Bill Wagner is entering his 47th season patrolling the sidelines for Penn. Coach “Wags” has led the Quakers to five CSFL titles during his tenure, the most recent coming in 2010. He has also steered the Quakers to 10 Ivy League championships, which incidentally is named the William R. Wagner Trophy.
The Quakers controlled their own destiny in the CSFL last season, needing to end the year with back-to-back wins to claim the league championship. Unfortunately, it was a 16-13 double-overtime loss to Army West Point in Week 6 that extinguished Penn’s chances. The Black Knights went on to finish the season undefeated to win their 34th CSFL title, while the Quakers closed 2015 with a 75-12 victory over Princeton. Penn finished second in the CSFL standings with a record of 5-2. The Quakers haven’t defeated Army West Point since 2008.