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PHILADELPHIA - Penn will host another CSFL power on Friday night, looking to drop Navy from the ranks of the unbeaten as the CSFL season begins its final two weeks of play for 2012.
The Red and Blue were stopped by Post last weekend, 48-27 in a high-powered game at Franklin Field. Big plays were the story of the game, Penn's return of the opening kickoff quickly answered by a kickoff return touchdown by Post on the very next play. Penn's next series ended with Post returning a punt 67 yards to setup a short touchdown drive from which Penn never recovered.
The Red and Blue will need to eliminate the big plays on defense and special teams Friday to halt a Navy offense which enters the contest averaging 39.2 points-per-game. Penn's defense will focus on the run, as Navy again enters with an offense primarily designed on the ground game. The Midshipmen are averaging 185.8 yards on the ground, carrying the ball 231 times to just 87 attempted passes. Depth is a big component in Navy's ground attack, with six players having rushed 19 or more times. In fact, Navy's leading rusher - Corey Garcia - is averaging 112 yards-per-game on 68 attempts, but has yet to cross the goal line.
The Midshipmen are not putting up wild numbers in terms of total yardage, amassing 289.4 total yard of offense each time out, but those numbers are reflective of solid work on defense and special teams. Navy is averaging 33.5 yards on kickoff returns, and an even more impressive 17.4 yards on punt returns. Defensively, Navy has intercepted 12 passes, returning those picks for an average of 17.5 yards.
Look for Penn to put the ball in the hands of its capable duo of running backs in Mike Beamish and Joe Raso. Second in the CSFL in rushing, Beamish has carried the ball 115 times for 538 yards. He is averaging 4.7 yards-per-rush, but has yet to find the endzone. Raso has been a steady change of pace in his first season, averaging 5.5 yards on his 29 carries.
A refocused running attack should open up room for Whit Shaw and Nick Longtin to operate in the passing game. Shaw has caught 26 passes, averaging 16.4 yards-per-reception, while Longtin has come on of late with 16 catches with an average of 10.9 yards-per-catch.
With Navy's preference tilting toward the run game, look for Penn's defensive front to be busy. Anthony DiBella leads the team with 41 tackles - 27 of which have been solo stops. Freshman Mack Pierson has been a fixture in opponents' backfields, making 12 of his 31 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Jack Miller has made 36 tackles, also breaking up for passes.