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PHILADELPHIA - The CSFL's top-two offenses will meet on Saturday as Penn hosts Army in a crucial league matchup on Saturday night at 7 p.m. The Quakers (2-1, 1-1 CSFL) need to put the first loss of the season on the Black Knights (4-0, 3-0 CSFL) if the Red and Blue hope to climb back into the race for the championship.
Saturday's meeting will be an interesting contrast in styles as the Quakers focus their efforts on the ground while Army is twice as likely to throw the ball as it is to push forward on the ground. The Quaker's boast the CSFL's leading rusher in Mike Beamish, who enters the weekend with 396 yards rushing on 75 carries - an average of 5.3 yards-per-carry. Beamish is part of a potent rushing attack which has Penn averaging 218.7 yards-per-game on the ground, with two different running backs - Beamish (5.3) and freshman Joe Raso (5.7) averaging over five yards a carry. Quarterback Keith Braccia has called his own number 43 times for 119 yards, doing most of his damage in the red zone where he has three touchdowns. In fact, Penn's leading rusher - Beamish - has amassed his nearly 400 yards rushing without once crossing the goal line on the ground. His only touchdown of the season came via a 15-yard reception last week against Mansfield.
Army has been putting up points and yards at a prolific clip this season, averaging 48.8 points-per-game and 519.8 yards-per-game. While the Black Knights have put up a respectable 179.5 yards-per-game rushing with six touchdowns on the ground, it is when they go to the air that Army does its most damage. Army has completed 117 passes for 1,361 yards and 21 touchdowns this season - averaging 340.2 yards and 5.3 touchdowns over its first four games. Javier Sustaita is the big gun under center for the Black Knights, completing passes at a clip of 64.2% for 1,291 yards and 17 touchdowns. The senior has twice been an All-CSFL performer, finishing last year with 27 touchdowns in the air to go with eight on the ground. The CSFL's two top targets, naturally, run routes for the Black Knights. Tom Jeffers has caught 33 passes for 371 yards and four touchdowns while Cody Nyp has reeled in 23 passes for 410 yards and seven scores.
Penn's defense ranks third in the CSFL behind Army and Navy, holding opponents to 303 yards-per-game and 25 points-per-game. On the ground is where Penn is at its best defensively, allowing just 180 total yards of offense on running plays this season - and average of 1.7 yards-per-rush. Anthony DiBella leads the team with 23 total tackles - 12 of which have been solo stops. Mack Pierson has made 9.5 of his 21 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including five quarterback sacks. Penn has spent a lot of time disrupting plays in the backfield, registering 38 tackles for loss and 19 sacks this season - trends which Penn will need to continue against the high-powered Army offense.
Last year, Penn and Army engaged in an offensive battle at West Point, Army eventually pulling away for a 58-44 win. The two sides combined for 1,154 yards of offense in the game - 801 of which came through the air to the tune of 12 passing touchdowns. Todd Busler threw for 390 yards in the game, completing 30 of his 59 passes for five touchdowns while rushing for 70 more yards and a score. Sustaita went for 411 yards and seven scores for the Black Knights, also scoring once on the ground.
Game Notes: Penn is looking for its first win over Army since 2008 ... The Quakers have six wins all-time against Army, including back-to-back wins in 2007-08 ... Army has scored 198 points in its four games, Penn and its opponents have combined for 149 points ... The Quakers have not allowed any points in the third quarter this season ... Penn's three games have been decided by a combined total of 13 points, Army's four games have been decided by a combined total of 147 ... Mike Beamish crossed the 1,000-yard mark for his career last week and enters the game with 1,058 career rushing yards in just 10 games