Penn adding to Philly's championship flavor
By Jacob Tarabar, FCS Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Many consider the year 1980 as the pinnacle of Philadelphia athletics.
In that year, All four professional sports franchises made it to their respective post season, with the NBA's 76ers and NFL's Eagles making it to championship rounds and the Phillies winning the World Series.
After 1983, when the 76ers won the NBA championship, Philadelphia sports struggled to keep up with neighboring cities such as Washington DC, New York City, and Boston, which all saw championship parades, while the City of Brotherly Love saw losses and disappointing playoff appearances mount up over a 25 year span.
The aura around Philadelphia has changed within the past 13 months. With the Phillies winning the World Series in 2008, it kicked off a string of Philadelphia successes, which included an improbable trip to the NFC Championship game by the Eagles, playoff appearances from the Flyers and 76ers, and a return to the World Series by the Phillies.
What makes this go-around different is the presence of successful collegiate football programs joining Philadelphia's professional teams.
Temple football, which has long been a laughing stock of the FBS world, is currently 7-2 and bowl eligible for the first time in 30 years and is still in the race for a Mid-American Conference championship.
Villanova's football squad is ranked fourth nationally and has been holding its own in the competitive Colonial Athletic Association, including a win Saturday against the defending FCS champion and No. 1-ranked Richmond Spiders.
The Penn Quakers have also tasted success this season, coming into this game with a share of first place in the Ivy League. With the success of college football this year, can Philadelphia become known as much for its collegiate football as it is for professional football?
"It's not something that will be built overnight," Mike Mahoney, Director of Communications for Penn, said prior to the game, "Philadelphia's going to become a place where if you're a college football fan, you know you're going to be able to see good football, whether you go to Temple, 'Nova, or Penn to see a game."
Penn did their part this afternoon. Led by quarterback Kyle Olson (20-of-32, 238 yards and three TDs passing) and a smothering defense, the Quakers shut down the Princeton Tigers 42-7.
The Quakers amassed a season high 453 yards on offense and moved the ball effectively throughout the game. Their defense only allowed 215 total yards, and picked off Tigers quarterback Tommy Wornham twice, including one by Chris Wynn which was returned 60 yards for a touchdown.
"I think it's the most complete game we've played all year," Penn Head Coach Al Bagnoli said after the game, "When you look at our offense, defense, kicking game, and coverage teams, we were real solid today. Outside of the field goal being blocked, we were really sound. We capitalized off turnovers and scored on one of them. From top to bottom, in all facets, it was as complete a game as we have played all year."
The Quakers kicked off the scoring on their first drive. After a three and out by Princeton, Penn started out on their own 41. Following an encroachment penalty on the Tigers, Quarterback Kyle Olson hit WR Kyle Durham for 21 yards, wrestling the ball away from Tigers CB Dan Kopolovich. On the following play, Olson hit Fullback Luke DeLuca, who caught a deflected pass and took it to the Princeton one yard line. DeLuca finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, giving the Quakers an early 7-0 lead.
On the following drive, Olson converted three first downs and managed to get the Quakers down to the Princeton 9-yard line. However, Princeton Defensive Lineman Joel Karacozoff managed to block the 26-yard field attempt, giving the Tigers a chance to build some momentum.
Princeton struggled to take advantage of Penn miscues. After the blocked field goal, they were able to get a first down on the following play, but their offense stalled on their 36 yard line and they were forced to punt. The Tigers defense was able to contain the Quakers and forced a three and out. During the punt, Tigers punt returner Andrew Kerr muffed the fair catch and the Quakers recovered on the Tigers 30 yard line. Penn took advantage of the field position, with Olson hitting WR Matt Tuten on consecutive passes, the second one going for a 14-yard touchdown, giving the Quakers a 14-0 lead.
Problems for the Tiger offense continued on the next drive. On a 2nd and 12 from their 37, Wornham had his pass deflected by Penn Linebacker Zach Heller, and Defensive Back Jonathan Moore was there to pick off the pass and give the Quakers a 1st and 10 on the Princeton 35 yard line. Penn immediately took advantage of the situation, with Olson hitting Tuten for a 27 yard gain to put the Quakers on the Princeton 8 yard line. On fourth and goal, Luke DeLoca barged into the end zone for his second TD of the day, extending the Quaker lead to 21-0. In the first half alone, Olson threw for 200 yards, completing 16 of his 25 attempts.
"The coaches put together a great game plan," Olson said. "The whole key today was to manage the game and play within yourself. All I had to do was just put the ball in their hands and my players did the rest."
Princeton finally got their offense going on the following possession. On the first play of the drive, Wornham hit FB Matt Zimmerman for a 14-yard gain to put the Tigers at their own 47. On the following play, he hit WR Trey Peacock for a 44 yard completion, where he was knocked out of bounds at the Penn 9. After being stuffed on the first three downs, Wornham hit Andrew Kerr for a two-yard touchdown pass on 4th and goal to put the Tigers on the board, cutting the Penn lead to 21-7 with 7:56 left in the 1st half.
Penn's offense operated as effectively in the second half as in the first. Kyle Olson led the Tigers down the field. On a first and goal from the seven, Olson hit Kyle Durham for a touchdown to give the Quakers a 28-7 advantage. On their third possession of the half, it was RB Lyle Marsh that drove the Quakers down field. On the drive, he rushed for 60 of his 99 yards, including a 40 yard run that put the Quakers in the Red Zone. The Quakers capped off the drive with Kyle Olson's third TD pass of the game, hitting TE Luke Nawrocki in the back of the end zone for a three-yard TD on second and goal, giving Penn a 35-7 lead.
With today's win, Penn is 6-2 overall and 5-0 within the Ivy League. Next week they head to Cambridge, Massachusetts to to face off against Harvard, in what will most likely be considered the Ivy League Championship game. This afternoon, Harvard soundly defeated Columbia 34-14 and coming into today, they led the Ivy League in scoring and were second in total offense.
With a big overtime win at Brown last week, and the match-up with Harvard on the horizon, Coach Bagnoli praised his squad for maintaining their focus on the Tigers.
"Coming off of an overtime, road game against Brown, everyone wants to talk about the looming game with Harvard. I thought our kids showed a tremendous amount of maturity just staying in the present. We have a 24 hour rule and we want to enjoy this for a little bit. Tomorrow we will worry about Harvard."
11/11 00:54:23 ET