Penn will play both senior quarterbacks again

Billy Ragone threw five interceptions in Penn's28-21 loss to Lafayette. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ
Billy Ragone threw five interceptions in Penn's28-21 loss to Lafayette. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ (/ Staff)
Posted: September 22, 2012

To know the competitive nature of Penn's football team, look at the Quakers' effort in last week's opening, 28-21 loss at Lafayette.

The outcome remained in doubt until the Quakers threw an interception late in the fourth quarter, a fitting ending to a turnover-filled opener. Imagine how the Quakers would have fared had they not committed eight turnovers.

"Kudos to kids for staying focused and showing resolve," said Penn coach Al Bagnoli, whose team trailed by 21-0 in the first quarter. "Then again, you can't win with a turnover ratio we had."

Lafayette had two turnovers, both interceptions.

Bagnoli understands that the 0-1 Quakers must cut down on the miscues if they plan to be competitive in Saturday's 3:30 p.m. matchup with Villanova (2-1) at Franklin Field.

In the opener, Bagnoli used both senior quarterbacks, Billy Ragone and Andrew Holland, and they combined to throw seven interceptions, five by Ragone.

Bagnoli, who will be coaching his 200th game at Penn, said both quarterbacks will play again this week. But there is no controversy. Ragone is his starter.

Since Ivy League teams don't compete in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, the nonleague games are more important to Villanova than to Penn, which gears everything to its league schedule.

It's not that Bagnoli doesn't desperately want to beat a Villanova team that has won 11 in a row over the Quakers. It's just that he wants the Quakers ready for their Ivy opener Sept. 29 at Dartmouth.

"Our goal is to win the Ivy League, and we want to get as many of our players who have earned the time in a competitive situation," Bagnoli said.

Holland completed 18 of 28 passes for 191 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in the opener. Ragone completed 14 of 23 for 153 yards, one touchdown, and five interceptions. He was also Penn's leading rusher with 58 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.

Penn rushed for only 78 yards against Lafayette and needs a stronger ground game to combat a Villanova team that is allowing 4.4 yards per rush. Quakers running backs had only 10 carries, compared with 11 for the two quarterbacks.

Penn was impressive stopping the run in the opener. Led by junior strong safety Sebastian Jaskowski of Moorestown High, who had 11 tackles, Penn limited Lafayette to 102 yards rushing on 40 carries for just a 2.5-yard average.

Another positive for Penn was the return of running back Lyle Marsh. He had been limited to six games over the previous two seasons because of injuries. Marsh had eight receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns.

Execution will be key for Penn because combating Villanova's athletes will be a challenging task.

"From top to bottom this will be the most athletic team we will see," Bagnoli said. "What they do in space is really impressive."


Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.

 

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