Penn senior looks to go out with a win, and hit .500

Posted: November 23, 2013

Penn wide receiver Ryan Mitchell understands that the season finale at 1 p.m. Saturday at Franklin Field against Cornell will be emotional.

Not only is it the final game for Mitchell and the rest of the Penn seniors, but the Quakers are in the unusual position of playing to secure a .500 season.

Ivy League champions three of the last four seasons, Penn is 4-5 and looking to avoid its first sub- .500 season since going 4-6 in 2007.

For Mitchell, going out with a victory and snapping the Quakers' three-game losing streak is a major goal.

"Our 2014 class has been part of many championship teams and it is disappointing we have lost this year, but Penn is a historic winning team and we can't go off with a losing record," Mitchell said. "So this game means a lot."

Mitchell is going after a personal milestone. He has 99 career receptions. (Teammate Conner Scott is right behind with 94.)

This season Mitchell and Scott have a team-high 32 receptions. Mitchell has one touchdown and leads the Quakers in receiving yards (421).

One thing that Mitchell, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior from La Grange Park, Ill., won't be worrying about is that 100th reception.

"Not at all," he said when asked if it is on his mind. "Once you start thinking about that you start stumbling and fumbling with the ball, so I am going out and playing my game."

During a season in which Penn has been decimated by injuries, Mitchell's game has impressed coach Al Bagnoli.

"He is a tough kid," Bagnoli said. "He is hard-working, dynamic, and really has flat-out speed."

Penn is expected to start Ryan Becker at quarterback after Billy Ragone tweaked his ankle during last week's 38-30 loss at Harvard. Penn trailed 38-0 late in the third quarter before making a wild comeback. The Quakers had a first down on the Harvard 26-yard-line with under a minute left, but they were stopped on downs.

Because of Ragone's ankle problems, which caused him to miss two full games, Mitchell has developed a strong rapport with the backup as well as the starter.

"I have been fortunate to have quarterbacks like Billy Ragone and Ryan Becker to throw to me," he said.

The quarterbacks have benefited from the sure-handed Mitchell.

A political science major, Mitchell said he would like to pursue coaching, possibly as a graduate assistant.

He understands emotions will be running high during his final appearance in a Penn uniform.

"It is another chapter in my life that is going to end, but I appreciate the opportunities Penn gave me, the tools to succeed later in life," he said. "I am just trying to go off on a high note and hopefully we will get a win."


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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