PHILADELPHIA, PA. 10/18/2014 – The University of Pennsylvania football team got their first win of the season 31 – 7 over the Columbia Lions at Franklin Field. The Lions got the initial touchdown of the game, but the Quakers would respond with 31 unanswered points while keeping the Lions out of the endzone. Penn Coach Al Bagnoli was happy that his team could celebrate a victory while knowing they can improve.
“We won, but I know we can play a lot better,” Bagnoli said. “I am convinced that we can play fifty percent better, and that is a nice starting point. A win is a win, but our team can look and say we can do this better or do that better and execute better. That is a nice platform when you win and have a lot more room for improvement. We are in that scenario.”
Columbia took the opening kickoff and went on a 9 play, 81 yard drive in the opening 3:54 of the game that culminated with a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor McDonagh to tight end Zach Dansby. During the drive the Lions would convert a 4th and 6 at the Penn 29 yard line to keep the drive alive. The scoring toss came 3 plays later.
The Red and Blue would respond at the 4 minute mark when senior Eric Fiore took the ball 12 yards up the middle across the line. The point after tied the game at 7. Fiore, playing running back for the first time this season, finished the game with 42 yards rushing and caught 2 passes for 47 yards.
Penn took the lead at the 5:35 mark of the second quarter when sophomore quarterback Alex Torgersen hit junior tight end Ryan Kelly with a 7 yard scoring strike and a 14 – 7 lead at halftime. Torgersen completed 16 of 22 passes in the game for 214 yards. He did not throw an interception.
The offense seemed to be getting in synch. The Red and Blue scored two touchdowns in the third quarter as Torgersen and sophomore Adam Strouss scored on one-yard runs. Torgersen contributed 70 yards on the ground. Sophomore running back Brian Schoenauer had a game-high 77 rushing yards. Penn gained 276 rushing yards on 54 carries. Senior wide receiver Conner Scott caught 5 passes for 76 yards. He moved into 5th place on the school career receptions list with 123 passing Don Clune.
Meanwhile the Quakers adjusted to the Columbia attack. McDonagh threw 50 passes on the day completing 26 for 266 yards. The Lions gained only 20 yards rushing.
“We just focused up and did our jobs,” said Penn senior safety Evan Jackson about how the defense kept Columbia at bay. “We got excited and didn’t focus in early. We needed to play Penn defense from that point on, buckle down, and focus on our job.”
The game was not crisply played as there were 25 penalties. Columbia had 16 for 118 yards while Penn was flagged 9 times for 75 yards.
The Red and Blue (1 – 4, 1 – 1) have won their 18th straight over the Lions. With the win Penn also snapped an 8-game losing streak. The next outing is a game with Yale in New Haven. The team could be building some positive momentum.
“I give our kids a lot of credit for hanging in there, persevering and believing,” said Bagnoli. “No one likes to be in this scenario. It was nice to see that we can build, win, and feel a little bit better about ourselves, and hopefully carry that forward next week against Yale.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian