Sept. 17, 2013
THE OPENING KICK
MATCH-UP: The Leopards take to the road for the first time in 2013, searching for their first victory of the season. It will be no easy task as the reigning Ivy League champion Penn Quakers open their 10-game season at historic Franklin Field.
Lafayette is looking to rebound from a 34-6 setback vs. William & Mary which is receiving votes in both of the major FCS polls. Lafayette never really got things moving against the Tribe and gave up two "pick-six" plays in the first half that helped set the tone for the entire game.
The Leopards have enjoyed some success in recent meetings with Penn, claiming five of the last six contests in a series that dates back to the initial meeting in 1882. The teams have split the last 10 games. Saturday's game marks the 90th meeting against the Quakers, the Leopards' third most frequent opponent.
RETURNING THE KICK: One strong suit for the Leopards has been the play of the kick return unit under Special Teams Coordinator Doug McFadden. The Leopards are currently ninth in the nation, returning the ball an average of 29 yards per kick. Sophomore corner Matt Smalley is seventh in the nation individually, averaging 37 yards per kick return. Smalley ran the opening kick of the season back 98 yards for a touchdown against Sacred Heart.
SPREADING IT AROUND: Versus William & Mary, junior QB Zach Zweizig completed 31-of-47 passes for 239 yards. He spread the ball around to 10 different receivers with seven of those pass catchers reeling in multiple receptions. Demetrius Dixon led the way with a career-best seven catches while Justin Adams had six for 47 yards and Mark Ross five for 68 yards. Mike Duncan (4-22), Brandon Hall (3-36), Darrell Crawford (2-22), Ross Scheuerman (2-10), Tim Vangelas (1-9), Pat Creahan (1-5) and Marcellus Irving (1-5) all got in on the action.
ROSS AMONG BEST AT LAFAYETTE: Senior wide receiver Mark Ross is in the midst of his final season, looking to continue his ascent up Lafayette's career receiving charts. He ranks first in career receiving touchdowns (20), snapping a tie with Phil Ng '88 following a touchdown vs. Sacred Heart in the opener. He is sixth in career receiving yards (1,957) and sixth in career receptions (140), recently surpassing Joe McCourt '05 and Frank Corbo '85 with 139 and 136 catches, respectively.
Ross had five catches for 68 yards against William & Mary, snapping a streak of four games with 100-plus receiving yards. In the season opener, he reeled in 11 balls for 156 yards and a TD vs. Sacred Heart.
Ross needs 23 grabs and 450 yards to surpass John Weyrauch '04 (162 catches for 2,406 yards) atop both lists.
Penn begins its 2013 season after going 6-4 a year ago and capturing the Ivy League title with a 6-1 league record. All eight members of the of the Ivy League play 10 games without a bye week. The Ivy League does not compete in the FCS playoffs.
The Quakers bring back 18 starters, nine on offense and nine on defense as they look to defend their Ivy League crown.
Five of the last six meetings between the Leopards and Quakers have been decided by one possession.
Senior quarterback Billy Ragone returns for a fifth year. Ragone threw for nearly 1,300 yards last season to go along with 11 touchdown passes. He was also second on the team in rushing, compiling 476 yards on 114 carries. Ragone has started 27 games in his Penn career.
Senior wide receiver Conner Scott earned All-Ivy Second Team honors last season after missing the entire 2011 season with an injury. Scott racked up team bests in receptions with 52, yards with 691 and touchdown catches with five.
Senior safety Sebastian Jaskowski is one of the team's top returning tacklers. Jaskowski earned All-Ivy First-Team honors last season after leading the Quakers in total tackles with 72 stops.
Head coach Al Bagnoli (Central Connecticut State, '75) enters his 21st season at Penn. Last year's Ivy League championship was Penn's ninth since Bagnoli took over in 1992 and was the school's third title in the past four seasons.