Sprint Football Falls to Navy, 56-7

Box Score

PHILADELPHIA – Penn sprint football had high hopes entering Friday night’s game at Franklin Field. It was Senior Night for the Red and Blue, and the class of 2007 hoped to cap their night with a championship celebration. Instead, it was Navy who was singing in the rain, celebrating a 56-7 win that clinched at least a share of the CSFL title for the Midshipmen. The Quakers will need a win next week at Princeton coupled with a Navy loss to Army to gain a piece of the championship.

There are times when the statistics don’t tell the story of the game. Unfortunately for Penn, this was not one of those games. Navy accumulated 553 yards to only 121 for Penn. On the ground, the Mids rushed for 370 yards and six touchdowns. The Quakers managed just 31 yards on 30 attempts. Navy picked up 26 first downs to Penn’s nine. Of all the stats that favored Navy, perhaps none is more telling than third down conversions. Navy converted 12 of 17 third downs, while Penn only was good on one of 11. If that wasn’t enough, Navy also picked up fourth down conversions all three times they went for it. Penn could not sustain any drives, consistently having to punt the ball back to the Mids in good field position.

The game started out competitive enough, with neither team able to get on the scoreboard in the first quarter. Navy came closest when David Reifenberg missed a 35-yard field goal with 3:27 remaining in the opening quarter.

Navy exploded in the second quarter, scoring on its first three possessions. James Campbell intercepted Michael D'Angelo at the Navy 37-yard line and returned it 37 yards to the Penn 26. Three plays later, D.J. Green found Gaetano Bettinelli from 18-yards out for the game’s first score.

Penn again turned the ball over, this time on downs when Marten Basta could not come down with a D’Angelo pass on 4th and four at the Navy 33. The Midshipmen proceeded to march down the field, using 12 plays to find the endzone. Richard Engel capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run that tied him for most all-time for Navy with 23.

The Quakers went three-and-out on their next drive, leading to the third TD for Navy. This time, Green found Karl Motoyama for a 29-yard TD pass, capping an eight play, 71-yard drive.

Penn got back into the game following a rare miscue by Navy on special teams. Facing 4th-and19 and forced to punt, the Quakers caught a break when Campbell muffed the punt. Marcus Goodwin recovered for the Quakers at the Navy eight yard line. On the next play, D’Angelo turned a broken play into a touchdown, scrambling first to his left and then back across the field for the eight-yard score, bringing the Quakers within two touchdowns. The play proved to be costly, as D’Angelo was met with a thunderous hit just as he crossed into the endzone. He had to be helped from the field and did not return in the second half.

It looked as if Penn kept the momentum on its side at the start of the second half when Jacques Beauvais intercepted Green on Navy’s first drive of the half. The Quakers could not capitalize, punting the ball following a Rob Lombardi rush for no gain and two Colin Dampier incompletions.

Navy did not hesitate to put the hammer down, driving 58 yards on 13 plays to up the lead to 28-7. Green called his own number from the one-yard line and scored on the quarterback keeper.

The fourth quarter started with the game still within reach for Penn, trailing by three touchdowns. That notion was put to bed quickly as Enrique Harris took a Green handoff from the Penn 38-yard line and scampered in untouched for Navy’s fifth touchdown of the game.

Faced with a comeback, Penn took to the air. Dampier’s next pass was intercepted by Hunter Armour. On the seventh play of the drive, Nate Stewart showed Navy’s depth at running back, scoring on a 54-yard run to give the Mids a 42-7 lead.

Rushing scores from Green (one yard) and Steve Benson (33-yards) brought the score to 56-7, which is how the game ended.

Rob Lombardi proved he is not just an offensive force, leading Penn in tackles from the safety position. He registered 7.5 tackles, seven of which were solo stops. In addition, he forced a fumble and broke up two passes. Beauvais also had 7.5 tackles to go with his interception. Sam Biddle and Gage O'Connell continued impressive freshmen seasons at linebacker, coming away with 6.5 tackles each. Biddle also added a fumble recovery.

One highlight for Penn on offense was Tomas Altamirano. The senior wide receiver caught four passes for 56 yards. He now has a total of 558 yards for his career, placing him seventh on Penn’s career receiving yardage list. With one game remaining in his collegiate career, Altamirano has a realistic chance to move as high as fifth if he records 76 yards next week at Princeton.

The Quakers finish their season on November 2 at Princeton. The two teams met already this season, with Penn prevailing 60-7.