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PHILADELPHIA - Penn finally will line up for some regular-season snaps at Franklin Field on Friday, as sprint football hosts Mansfield at 7 p.m. After hosting the annual Alumni Game at the beginning of September, the Quakers have twice traveled on the road to open the regular season and return at 1-1.
Both contests have been classics for the Red and Blue - a 24-20 win in the final ten seconds at Franklin Pierce following a heartbreaking 42-34 loss at Cornell in a game requiring six overtimes to decide a winner.
Penn is 4-0 all-time against Mansfield, including a 39-14 win last year at
Franklin Field. Graduated quarterback Todd Busler was the focal point of Penn's offense in that game, throwing for two touchdowns while running for a pair. Penn churned out 502 yards of offense in the game, nearly splits 50-50 between passing (269) and rushing (233).
While it was the offense which put together the quick score in the final seconds against Franklin Pierce last Sunday, Penn's defense put forth a great effort to deny the Ravens from moving the ball all game. Anthony DiBella led the charge for the defense, registering 10 tackles while making two interceptions. One of those picks came on the last play of the game, denying any chance of a Franklin Pierce comeback. Earlier this week, DiBella was named CSFL Defensive Player of the Week for the first time after earning All-CSFL honors each of the three previous seasons.
Whit Shaw could have very well joined his teammate on the weekly honors list after his seven-catch, 146-yard day against the Ravens. 73 of those yards came on one play - the final touchdown Penn needed to record the win - as Shaw increased his lead in the Penn record book. Already ranking first in all-time receiving yards by a Penn sprint football player entering this season, Shaw has accumulated 261 yards receiving in two games this season to bring his total to 2,018 yards. His 146 yards last Sunday were the eighth-most in a single game by a Penn player and give Shaw four of the top ten single-game performances in school history.
The deep threat of Shaw and the power rushing of Mike Beamish provide Penn with a potent 1-2 punch to keep defenses on their toes. Beamish is leading the CSFL in rushing, averaging 5.6 yards-per-carry over his 49 attempts in two games, racking up 273 yards in two games. One thing Beamish is still looking for, however, is his first touchdown of the season as Penn's three rushing touchdowns have come in the arms of Keith Braccia (two) and Joe Raso.
The Red and Blue have dialed up the pressure on defense, forcing 11 sacks as part of 32 total tackles for loss. Ed Cai has led the way in both those categories, registering 2.5 sacks and 4.5 TFLs. When opposing quarterbacks have been able to get a pass off, Penn has intercepted the ball four times and broken up 18 other passes. Look for the Red and Blue to keep the pressure on as Mansfield enters the game averaging 140 yards of total offense over its two outings in 2012.
After a 23-16 win at Princeton to start the season, Mansfield was passed over by Army, 52-6, last weekend. The Mountaineers ran back an Army fumble for 79 yards in the game's first six minutes, and then watched as Army racked up 628 yards of offense - 437 of which came through the air.