PHILADELPHIA—Penn quarterback Alek Torgersen sparked a 28-point second half as he passed for 241 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Quakers to a 35-10 Ivy League football win over Columbia before 6,044 fans Saturday at Franklin Field.
Torgersen led an explosive Penn offense that scored three touchdowns on plays of 20 yards or more and totaled 463 yards, 313 of those coming in the second half. Torgersen had help in running back Tre Solomon, who rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, receiver Justin Watson, who caught six passes for 114 yards and a touchdown and receiver Christian Pearson, who finished with six receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
“They are really high-powered on offense and can make explosive plays,” Columbia Head Coach Al Bagnoli said. “We did a nice job bottling them up in the first half. We just allowed too many big plays in the second half. Offensively, we did some good things, but we had trouble sustaining for long periods of time. It’s tough when you are trying to evolve and gain an identity against a good team on the road. I give Penn a lot of credit. They did a great job of executing. Nothing they did caught us by surprise but we struggled and ran out of gas in the second half.”
Columbia trailed just 7-0 at halftime after a stellar first half performance from its defense, which entered the game ranked No. 21 nationally in total defense. In the first half, the Lions limited Penn to just six first downs, 72 rushing yards and 78 passing yards. Junior Landon Baty intercepted his first career pass and senior Gianmarco Rea registered a key sack in the Lions’ effort. Penn’s lone touchdown came just six minutes into the game when the Quakers took advantage of a Columbia turnover to take a 7-0 lead on a one-yard run by Solomon. The touchdown was setup by a Nick Miller interception off a deflected Columbia pass, which put Penn at Columbia’s 10-yard line.
Penn (3-2, 2-0 Ivy League) made it 14-0 with 12:27 left in the third quarter when Justin Watson caught a screen from quarterback Alek Torgersen, broke a tackle and ran 46 yards for a touchdown. The scoring drive went six plays for 80 yards. The Quakers used a 12-yard reception to Tre Solomon, 11-yard Karekin Brooks run and nine-yard Watson run to setup the score.
Columbia battled back to cut Penn’s margin to 14-7 in the third quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by freshman Hunter Petlansky. Freshman Lynnard Rose gave Columbia possession at the Penn 30-yard line with a career-long 31-yard punt return. Senior Cameron Dunn caught an Anders Hill pass and raced past the Penn defense for a 28-yard reception. Petlansky scampered in for his first career touchdown.
Penn came back with a touchdown on a 50-yard pass from Torgersen to Pearson to take a 21-7 lead with 3:10 left in the third quarter. Solomon setup the play with a 29-yard run to put Penn at the 50-yard line.
Freshman placekicker Oren Milstein cut Penn’s margin to 21-10 on a career-long 42-yard field goal with 11:05 left in the game. The score was set up by freshman Ronald Smith, who blocked a Penn punt which was recovered by freshman Michael Murphy at Penn’s 33-yard line.
The Quakers made it 28-10 in the fourth quarter on an eight-yard Torgersen pass to Pearson. Torgersen found Pearson for a 30-yard completion and Solomon ran for 25 yard gain to setup the score.
Columbia junior quarterback Anders Hill completed 17 of 34 passes for 179 yards, senior Cameron Dunn led Columbia with five catches for 56 yards, senior tight end John Hunton caught four passes for 51 yards and senior running back Alan Watson rushed for 49 yards on 18 carries. Senior Brock Kenyon led the Lions’ defense with nine tackles and senior Keith Brady added eight.
Bagnoli was also making a competitive return to Penn after he coached the Quakers for 23 years from 1992-2014, led the program to nine Ivy League Championships, a 140-89 overall record and 112-49 Ivy League record.
“It was nice to see people and catch up, from the electrician to the equipment guy, it’s great to catch up with them,” Bagnoli said “But once the game starts, you’re trying to give your team the best opportunity win. Once the whistle blew, it was just like any other game.”
Columbia (1-4, 0-2 Ivy League) is back in action when it hosts Dartmouth on Saturday, Oct. 22 for its annual Homecoming Game at Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence Wien Stadium. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. for a OneWorld Sports/ILDN simulcast broadcast.
POST GAME NOTES
·Columbia was represented at the coin toss by its three 2016 captains: seniors Scooter Hollis (WR), Skyler Mornhinweg (QB) and Christian Conway (LB).
·Today’s weather at kickoff at Franklin Field was 66 degrees, sunny and clear.
·Head Coach Al Bagnoli was coaching in his first game at Franklin Field as an opponent. Bagnoli spent 23 years (1992-2014) as the head football coach at Penn and guided the Quakers to nine Ivy League Championships, a 140-89 overall record and 112-49 Ivy League record. Bagnoli is not the only Columbia coaching staff member with Penn ties as Associate Head Coach Mark Fabish won two Ivy League titles as a player at Penn in 1993 and 1994 before spending 2009-14 on the Penn staff. Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Jon McLaughlin spent nine years in Philadelphia from 2006-14 as the offensive coordinator and coach of the offensive line.
·Columbia and Penn met for the 96th time in series history. Penn leads the all-time series with a 74-21-1 advantage. The Quakers extended their win streak to 20 victories against Columbia dating back to a 20-19 Lion win at Franklin Field on Oct. 12, 1996. The Lions have lost 10 straight to Penn in Philadelphia and are 5-46-1 all-time in games played at Penn. The series began in 1878.
·Freshman wide receiver Christian Everett made his first career start today. He finished the day with a career-high two receptions for 21 yards.
·In the first half, Columbia strung together a 15-play, 59-yard drive which saw it complete three first downs on passes to John Hunton (two) and Scooter Hollis and convert its fourth straight fourth down in two games. The drive went deep into territory but Columbia was forced to punt. The 15-play drive marked Columbia’s longest in terms of plays on the season.
·Junior Landon Baty intercepted the first pass of his career in the second quarter when he picked off Alek Torgersen and returned it 24 yards. It marked Columbia’s second interception of year.
·Freshman Lynnard Rose registered a career-long 31-yard punt return in the third quarter, which set up Columbia’s third quarter touchdown.
·Freshman Ronald Smith blocked his first career punt in the fourth quarter. The blocked kick was Columbia’s first since the 2015 season when the Lions blocked five kicks. Michael Murphy gathered the ball and Columbia had possession at the Penn 33-yard line.
·Freshman Oren Milstein converted his sixth straight field goal attempt on a career-long 42-yarder in the fourth quarter. He is a perfect 6-6 on the year.
·Freshman quarterback Hunter Petlansky registered the first two carries of his career. His second carry marked his first career touchdown.