A perilous 24-21 lead for the football team early in the third period of Saturday’s game against Georgetown quickly turned into a placid 59-28 affair, pacified by the Red & Blue’s 28-point third quarter.
Two first-quarter turnovers forced by the Quakers yielded two touchdowns and a 17-7 advantage. After the Red & Blue took an early 3-0 lead on junior kicker Graham Gotlieb’s 37-yard field goal, junior linebacker Jack Fairman intercepted quarterback Pierce Holley’s pass on the third play of Georgetown’s next drive, which gave Penn the ball at the Hoyas’ 30-yard line. Six plays later, sophomore quarterback Aidan Sayin connected with senior wide receiver Malone Howley on a nine-yard touchdown pass.
The Quakers got the ball back one play later. On the first play of the Hoyas’ next drive, senior linebacker Jonathan Melvin forced a fumble, which was recovered by senior defensive back Chris Rankins at Georgetown’s 24-yard line. Sayin completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Justin Cayenne on the next play. The Hoyas scored their first touchdown with 3:37 left in the first quarter via a two-yard run by running back Joshua Stakely.
Sayin’s third touchdown pass of the first half, which put Penn up 24-7, came at the tail-end of a 13-play, 64-yard drive, capped off by a seven-yard score to junior wide receiver Sterling Stokes at the opening of the second quarter.
On Penn’s next drive, Sayin’s pass on 3rd-and-seven from the Georgetown 22 was intercepted by defensive back Wedner Cadet and returned to Penn’s 38. The Hoyas were in the endzone a short time later. At halftime, Penn was ahead 24-14.
The Hoyas received the second-half kickoff and first-year running back Mason Gudger took it to the house, cutting the Red & Blue’s lead to 24-21.
Georgetown had the momentum, and the Quakers looked like they were on the ropes, but senior running back Trey Flowers helped calm things down. He took a 2nd-and-eight handoff at the Georgetown 47 and raced 40 yards to the seven-yard line. His subsequent one-yard score gave the Red & Blue a 31-21 cushion.
The offense was right back in groove the next time it took the field. A nine-play, 43-yard drive concluded with a two-yard touchdown run by Sayin. The Quakers’ lead increased to 38-21.
Georgetown was not out of it just yet, though. Gudger received the ensuing kickoff and returned it 89 yards for his second score of the game, which trimmed Penn’s lead to 38-28.
Perhaps inspired, sophomore wide receiver Julien Stokes returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to the Hoyas’ 46-yard line. On 3rd-and-two, Flowers rushed up the middle for a 38-yard touchdown, pushing the lead to 45-28.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Sayin and senior wide receiver Rory Starkey, Jr. linked up for a 23-yard touchdown, Sayin’s fifth touchdown and Penn’s seventh. Senior running back Tyson Comizio scored Penn’s eighth touchdown in the fourth; a three-yard run.
Sayin finished 21-34 for 221 yards with five touchdowns—four through the air and one on the ground—and one interception. He is only the seventh Quaker since 1940 to score at least five touchdowns in a game, and the first in 12 years.
Flowers carried 17 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Howley had seven receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Penn only punted once, and was 12 for 19 on third down and four for four on fourth down. The Quaker defense had five sacks and held Georgetown to 15 rushing yards.
The Red & Blue are 4-0, their best start since 2003. On Saturday, they host Columbia at 1 p.m. at Franklin Field.