After playing five of its first six games at Schoellkopf Field, the sprint football team will hit the road this weekend, as it faces off against Penn tonight at 7 p.m. The Quakers won the previous meeting this season by a 13-6 margin. The defensive struggle in the previous match-up featured just 300 yards of combined offense, with senior quarterback Alec Macaulay throwing three interceptions on the first four possessions of the fourth quarter to end any hope of a comeback. The Red, with an overall record of 2-3, hopes to close out the year with a winning record, needing victories over Penn, and Army at home, to do so.
“That would be pretty big for us [to close out the year with two wins],” said head coach Terry Cullen. “A lot about Penn scares me, especially their offensive talent. Their whole team is returning on offense from last year, and this will be a tough test for our defense.”
The defensive unit has been a bright spot for the Red all season. The unit has allowed a total of 32 points in the last three games, after giving up 41 in a shutout loss against Navy. Senior defensive lineman Steve Baron will be out again this week, as well as junior lineman Matt Collin, and senior defensive back Chris Deutschman – putting the defense in the hands of less experienced players.
“We’ve had our share of injuries all season,” Cullen said. “I’m proud of our team, though, in the way we’ve responded to many of the setbacks. Most evident has been the growth of our offensive line.”
The culmination of the progression of the line, which featured five new starters this season, came this past week against Princeton. Against the Tigers, junior tailback Michael Fullowan rushed for a season high 232 yards, as the team finished with 336 for the afternoon. Fullowan and his entourage of running backs have been a staple of the Red offense this season and will be crucial to the Red’s success in today’s game. However, Cullen also understand the importance of an effective passing game as well.
“I’d say the three keys to the game are maintaining ball possession, generating a solid passing attack, and putting the ball in the end zone,” Cullen said. “I have been a little disappointed with our recent passing game, especially against Princeton. We’ve been working hard all year, and I know we can improve.”
The Red will need to put forth the same level of intensity as it did in its first road game of the season against Navy if it is to be successful tonight. In addition, Cullen realizes the importance of a strong week of practice to the team’s success.
“We’ve been working on some things this week, like opening up the passing game and improving upon our game last week,” Cullen said. “Our offensive line has really come around. It’s unique to have five new guys start, but I’m proud of their progressions. This is a big game for us and we’d like to finish with a winning record.”
Archived article by Josh Fox
Sun Staff Writer