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Quakers' Faceoff with Brown for Homecoming in Game of the Season
Are you ready for some football?
Saturday’s nationally televised matchup between the two remaining unbeaten teams in Ivy League play, Brown and Penn, has all of the storylines you could ever want for a Homecoming game at Franklin Field.
VERSUS television network calls it the Ivy League game of the week. That might just be the understatement of the week, too.
It’s the Ivy League game of the season, at least to date.
The Bears (4-2, 3-0 Ivy) come to Philadelphia this weekend with the second-best offense in the Ancient Eight and a three-game winning streak against the Quakers (4-2, 3-0 Ivy).
Meanwhile, Penn fields the top scoring defense in the Football Championship Subdivision, holding its opponents to an average of 13 points per game.
The winner grabs sole possession of first place and controls its own destiny for the league championship. The loser is forced to battle uphill for the rest of the season.
Brown wide receiver Bobby Sewall, the Bears’ most dynamic offensive threat, knows that given the stakes, a win won’t come easily.
“It’s gonna go down to the wire,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge in all facets of the game. Two undefeated teams - you’ve gotta be up for that game.”
Sewall, who leads the FCS with eight receptions per game and ranks third overall in receiving yards per game, is the No. 1 option in Brown’s extremely successful passing attack.
Quarterback Michael Dougherty averages 278 passing yards per game - the 12th-most prolific passer in the nation. Last year, the seasoned veteran became only the fourth quarterback in Ivy League history to pass for over 3,000 yards in a season.
But Penn’s defense can’t simply get away with pressuring Dougherty and double-teaming Sewall every time. Junior wide receiver Buddy Farnham ranks second in receptions per game in the league, and he leads the conference in all-purpose yards.
Just two weeks ago at Princeton, the talented receiver racked up 228 all-purpose yards, with many of them coming out of the backfield and on punt and kickoff returns.
Penn coach Al Bagnoli is well aware of the threat Brown’s offense poses to his league-leading defensive unit.
“They’ve got the best set of returning skill kids in the league,” he said. “So they’re scary on film.”
Even so, Bagnoli is confident in his team’s ability to mitigate the Bears’ attack.
“Luckily for us, our strength is their strength,” he said. “They’re going to get some yards, and they’re going to get some catches, but hopefully we’re going to minimize the number of big plays that they have.”
Penn senior cornerback Tyson Maugle, the defensive captain and reigning Ivy League co-defensive player of the week, said the secondary has a “bend, but don’t break” mentality.
Offensively for the Quakers, quarterbacks Robert Irvin and Kyle Olson will likely continue to share snaps.
Since both signal callers have been relatively erratic this season, Bagnoli has not hesitated to rotate them in and out frequently throughout a single game.
Brown’s strong point on defense has been its ability to stop the run, holding opponents to fewer than 80 rushing yards per game. Therefore, the Quakers will have to establish a reliable passing attack to take advantage of a relatively weak Brown secondary.
Penn’s seniors have yet to defeat Brown in three years of hotly contested games. If ever there was a time to snap a losing streak, it’s now.
Standing tall with it all on the line
By Andrew Todres, The Daily Pennsylvanian
Photo Credit: Alvin Loke/DP Senior Photographer