PHILADELPHIA, PA. 10/15/2016 – The University of Pennsylvania remained unbeaten in Ivy League play with a 35 – 10 win over Columbia. It was different because former Penn coach Al Bagnoli now prowls the sideline for the Columbia Lions. This was his first time back at Franklin Field.
“Once the whistle blew, it didn’t matter who was on the other side,” Bagnoli said. “This should be about us getting better as a team, not about me coming back.”
His Lions are improving. The Columbia defense held them in the game. It caused the Penn defense to hold their opponent’s offense in check until the Red and Blue could make big plays with the ball.
“They played really good defense and kept us at bay,” said Penn Coach Ray Priore. “Our defense played good football and continue to improve. In the second half we played with more energy and made some adjustments on offense. It was good to finish as we did.”
Columbia finished 234 yards of offense and 12 first downs, and converted 5 of 18 third down opportunities.
The defense put the Quakers in position to get the first score. Linebacker Nick Miller intercepted a Anders Hill pass giving the Red and Blue a first and goal at the Lions 10 yard-line. Four plays later Tre Solomon scored on a 1-yard run four minutes into the game.
Early in the second half Penn struck again when quarterback Alek Torgersen found wide receiver Justin Watson up the right sideline for a 46-yard score to extend the lead to 14 – 0. Columbia answered later in the third quarter. A Lynnard Rose punt return set up Columbia at the Penn 31 yard line. Hunter Petlansy finished the 3-play drive scoring from 1-yard out to break the shutout.
The Quakers responded immediately. The offense took over at the 20 yard line and scored three plays later. Christian Pearson caught a pass from Torgersen and went up the right sideline for a 50-yard touchdown reception and a 21 – 7 Penn lead with 3:10 on the clock in the third quarter.
The defense was once again called upon when the Lions blocked a punt and were set up at the Quakers 32 yard line. They settled for a 42-yard field goal by Oren Milstein at the 11:05 mark. It was a win for Penn keeping Columbia away from the proximity score.
“It was big time,” said linebacker Colton Moskal. “Our coaches preach that when our backs are against the wall to get a big stop, everyone did their job, and we were able to get off the field.”
The Red and Blue answered with another 80-yard drive capped when Torgersen and Pearson clicked again for an 8-yard scoring toss, Pearson’s second touchdown of the game, and a 28 – 10 lead with 7:36 to play. Solomon added another touchdown to his total throwing a 23-yard halfback pass to Cam Countryman for the final score.
Solomon posted 127 of the Penn 199 rushing yards.
“We needed to make a few adjustments,” Solomon said. “The line worked hard up front and opened up a lot of holes for us.”
“The final score was not indicative of the of the game,” Bagnoli said. “We just ran out of gas. We allowed too many big plays in the second half.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian