Football relies on defense to beat Lafayette 12-0


Junior wide receiver Sterling Stokes looks to prevent a tackle from Lafayette during the game at Franklin Field on Sept. 24.

Credit: Samantha Turner

The Quakers may not have drawn many eyes today, but they did enough.

In a game that featured little offensive fanfare, the Reds and Blues came away with a 12-0 victory over Lafayette at Franklin Field, improving their record to 2-0 on the season.

Penn seemed ready to hit the ground running as he opened with a no-huddle offense to start his first drive. He ended up on a punt after the Quakers failed to convert on third down just past midfield. Lafayette also went fast on his first drive, but the Quaker defense resisted and forced a three-and-out.

“We don’t miss a step, we don’t miss a beat,” linebacker Jake Heimlicher said. “We have a group of nine guys who are playing their game. … It’s really nice to have all those guys so we always have fresh bodies. Heimlicher finished with 10 tackles which led all Quakers.

The Reds and Blues’ next possession was unsuccessful, producing a disappointing three-and-out themselves. The Leopards’ second drive began with two big plays that took them from the 19-yard line to midfield. From there, Penn’s defensive unit did a great job of stifling an initially promising series. Penn would rely heavily on his defense throughout the game, throwing a shutout in the win, his first since a win over Lehigh early last season.

The offense seemed to falter again on its third drive and was forced to punt after converting a first down. Then, out of nowhere, on a third down late in the first quarter, Penn’s second-year quarterback Aidan Sayin threw a perfect ball to wide receiver Julien Stokes for 57 yards. That drive ended with Sayin’s touchdown pass across to tight end Justin Cayenne on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Early in the second quarter, the score was 6-0 Penn. (The extra point was blocked and almost returned all the way)

“We were trying to get the rhythm right,” Sayin said. “A couple of dropped balls, a couple of missed passes by me, if we make those plays right, we’re going to hit sooner.”

The Leopards responded with a solid drive of their own and decided to go for it on fourth-and-seven, but once again the Quaker defense was able to stop and force a turnover on opportunities. The defense scored another turnover midway through the second quarter when junior cornerback Logan Nash intercepted Lafayette’s quarterback Ryan Schuster. Sayin threw a pick of his own late in the half, but the Leopards couldn’t capitalize. The half ended with a score of 6-0 in favor of the Quakers.

Credit: Anna Vazhaparambil Sophomore tight end Justin Cayenne celebrates his touchdown with teammates during the game against Lafayette at Franklin Field on Sept. 24.

The start of the second half was slow for both teams. The Leopards couldn’t do much on their opening drive and seemed to flounder offensively. The Quakers relied heavily on their running game in their first drive of the second half, however, they struggled to get past midfield.

Midway through the third quarter, Penn took advantage of good field position and drove to the 1-yard line after a series of quick screen passes. They then scored on a quarterback tip-off from Sayin himself. The Quakers failed their two-point conversion attempt.

Late in the third quarter, Schuster was stretchered out of the game with a heavy hit during a sack. He didn’t come back. The score was 12-0.

The last quarter was more of a fight. Both teams couldn’t do much offensively. The score remained deadlocked, and in the end, Penn won 12-0 with Sayin throwing for 196 yards and senior running back Trey Flowers rushing for 70 yards on 17 attempts.

“I am happy to come out with a victory. Winning is hard no matter where you play. Defensively, I think we did a pretty good job,” coach Ray Priore said.

Penn will hit the road next week as he travels to Hanover, NH to take on Dartmouth (1-0) in the Quakers’ Ivy League season opener in what will be a critical matchup against the defending champions of the co -conference.

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