The nationally ranked Penn Quakers rode a punishing offense and a 28-0 first quarter advantage to a 52-10 victory over the Princeton football team Saturday afternoon on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium.
Penn, ranked 18th in the latest FCS poll, gained 600 total yards, including 396 on the ground. The Quakers scored five rushing touchdowns, including two by wideout Aaron Bailey, who rushed four times for 82 yards. Princeton gained 170 yards, including 110 in the air from quarterbacks Andrew Dixon and Connor Kelley. Dixon completed 9 of 22 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown to Andrew Kerr, while Kelley completed 4 of 10 for 39 yards.
Senior Jordan Culbreath led Princeton with 46 yards rushing on nine carries, but he was injured midway through the game and will be evaluated this week. Fellow senior and co-captain Matt Zimmerman carried the ball 10 times for 37 yards, while Akil Sharp added 25 yards on five carries.
Kerr caught six passes for 51 yards, including his 10-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Trey Peacock caught five passes for 45 yards.
Senior Jon Olofsson had another strong game defensively, recording 12 tackles, while sophomore Tim Kingsbury added nine. Senior Weston Palmer had three tackles and stripped a Penn runner inches from the goal line to save a touchdown, while junior Blake Clemons set up Princeton's lone touchdown with his second interception of the season. Mike Catapano returned to action with five tackles and a half sack; he shared the sack with freshman Greg Sotereanos, who made his second start and recorded his first career sack.
Princeton moved the ball into field goal range on its first drive, which followed a 37-yard kickoff return by Meko McCray. Four Zimmerman runs and a short pass to Shane Wilkinson gave Patrick Jacob a shot at a 46-yard field goal, but the junior kicker missed it left, and Penn took over.
Penn quarterback Billy Ragone didn’t waste much time showing his ability as a double threat. On 3rd and 8 at the Princeton 38, Ragone couldn’t find an open receiver, but he saw a hole in the line and took advantage all the way to the Tiger 7. One play later, he lofted a perfect pass to Matt Tuten in the back right corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
After Princeton was stopped on three plays, Penn moved 61 yards in three plays to build a 14-0 lead, and it did so in an unconventional way. Two wide receiver end arounds sandwiched a 33-yard flea flicker; the final play would be a 10-yard run by Bailey around the left side of the line for a touchdown.
Penn would add two more touchdowns in the first quarter to build the lead to 28-0. Princeton finally got on the scoreboard on a 41-yard field goal by Jacob. The play was the culmination of two good efforts; holder Otavio Fleury made a nice play on a high snap, and Jacob booted the kick with plenty of room to spare.
Princeton found some inspiration from the play, and it grew when Clemons made a perfectly timed hit on a Penn pass inside its own 30. His hit forced a tip, which he caught in midair and returned 20 yards to the Quaker 10. Three plays later, Dixon rolled left and withstood a big hit after hitting Kerr along the right side for the touchdown. That left the score 31-10 at halftime.
Princeton had limited opportunities in the second half. The Quakers held the ball for nearly 20 minutes and limited Princeton to only four drives. The Tigers were 1 for 6 on third downs in the second half and made it into the Penn red zone once, but a fourth down pass by Dixon went incomplete. Penn scored three touchdowns in the second half to ice its seventh victory of the season.
The Tigers will play their final road game of the season next weekend when it heads to New Haven for the 133rd playing of the Princeton-Yale game. Princeton earned a 24-17 win over Yale last season.