By David F. Cohen
Only in the Ivy League, that eight-school amalgamation of brainpower and memories, can you get beat by two fellows with two last names:
Quinn Epperly and Connor Michelsen.
After losing consecutive Ivy games to Yale and Brown, Penn came up just short, falling to Princeton, 22-17.
“I commend our kids,” said coach Al Bagnoli, who coached his third-to-last game. “They played their tails off. They deserved a better fate. I don’t say this very often but I thought that game was stolen from us.”
Penn (1-7, 1-4 Ivy) had some key calls go against it, with Princeton (5-3, 4-1) getting five downs on one drive (before punting), a questionable pass interference call on senior Dan Wilk that led to three points and an interception that was ruled incomplete.
The key play of the game came with just over five minutes left and Penn down by five. On a fourth and six at Princeton’s 27, sophomore quarterback Alek Torgersen hit senior receiver Spencer Kulcsar over the middle but couldn’t pick up the first down deep in Princeton territory. From there, the Tigers ran out the clock on one final drive.
Due to injuries on defense that mounted up during the game, it was a no-brainer for Bagnoli to go it on fourth.
“I recognize who we had playing on defense,” he said. “The best opportunity was for us to go for it. We came with two defensive linemen who were already hurt and two more got hurt during the game.”
At the start, Red and Blue fell behind early despite some strong drives on offense. Torgersen led the Quakers into the redzone on their first drive but sack and a missed field goal by junior Jimmy Gammill led to no points.
Princeton (5-3, 4-1) responded with a field goal, yet Penn had a trick up its sleeve to get back into the redzone. A wide-receiver pass by Penn senior Conner Scott to fellow-senior receiver Eric Fiore led the Red and Blue into Princeton territory. A few plays later, the Quakers lined up in Tigers’ territory.
However, disaster struck as sophomore run-and gun QB Adam Strouss fumbled at the two. The Tigers’ Dorian Williams brought the ball all the way to Penn’s nine-yard line and got another field goal.
Princeton would lead 12-0 before long as senior QBs Quinn Epperly and Connor Michelsen drove Princeton down for a one-yard Epperly TD run.