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Penn Readies For Tough Match-Up With #5 Villanova

By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --- It was a tough season opener for the Penn Quakers this past weekend as they lost on the road at Jacksonville, 34-31. Now the Quakers focus on a very tough match-up in their home opener as they welcome #5 Villanova to Franklin Field on Saturday.

The game against Jacksonville went well for about 52 minutes, as Penn led 31-19 midway through the fourth quarter. But in a driving rain, the Dolphins scored the game's final 15 points, including the game winning score with just 39 seconds remaining.

"It was one of those things where we couldn't make a first down when we needed to and we couldn't stop them one time when we needed to," Penn head coach Al Bagnoli tells KYW Newsradio. "So that was frustrating. But overall there were a lot of positives that we took out of it. We had so many young kids playing in their first game, on the road, in humidity, in heat, in a driving rainstorm, and at times we looked like we had the potential to be a pretty good football team."

One real encouraging development in defeat was the play of new starting quarterback Alek Torgersen. Making his first college start, the sophomore threw for 200 yards and a score and also ran for a team high 65 yards and an additional touchdown.

"He did a really nice job," Bagnoli says. "He was a very decisive runner. So he carried the ball quite a bit off of option reads and I thought he did a really nice job there. He threw the ball well. Obviously, he's a Southern California kid so he doesn't have a tremendous amount of background in driving rainstorms. So that hindered us a little bit in the 4th quarter, he'll have to get used to throwing a little bit more of a wet ball, sloppy conditions. But overall, I thought he made a lot of good decisions, had some good throws and I thought, for his first start, acquitted himself very well."

The Penn/Villanova match-up is usually a very entertaining one, but Villanova has dominated in the win column. The Wildcats have won 13 straight games in this series and Villanova is playing outstanding football this season. They are 2-1 and now ranked 5th in FCS following their 49-31 win over James Madison. They also feature one of the nation's top players in junior quarterback John Robertson.

"If you talk about just a kid that can beat you in so many different ways, I think he is the poster child for that," Bagnoli says. "(Robertson) is just a really skilled athlete and I'm not sure anybody has really stopped him. Your hope is you can kind of slow him down and contain him a little bit. But he's such a dynamic kid and such a great leader. They rally around him and he's so versatile."

Last year, Villanova grabbed a 35-6 decision on the Main Line.

The Quakers and the Wildcats will kick-off at 3:00pm on Saturday at Franklin Field.


Al Bagnoli


You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.


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