The Pennsylvania Quakers began their season with a 25-14 victory over the Colgate Raiders Saturday. Penn trailed 14-3 at halftime and responded with a stellar second half, led by two touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Aidan Sayin.
“Great showing of maturity today. A comeback win in your first game is a real good one,” Penn head coach Ray Priore said. “We’ve got to build from here. I think our guys will walk away from here saying there’s a lot more growth this team could do on both sides of the ball,” Priore said.
Sayin returns to Penn’s offense after starting five games last season. Sayin attempted 44 passes Saturday, nearly a career-high in his first outing with offensive coordinator Dan Swanstrom calling the plays. The Quakers looked to use the quick passing game to get the ball from Sayin’s hand to their playmakers.
4Q 13:54 | Penn 22, Colgate 14
— 🏆Penn Football 🏆 (@PENNfb) September 17, 2022
Sayin did throw two interceptions in the first half, including a pick-six with 24 seconds remaining before halftime. He took accountability for the interceptions, calling them a mistake while stating that he did not change his mentality in the second half.
Sayin was protected by a talented group of offensive linemen, led by team captain and center Trevor Radosevich. Right guard Ben Hoitink was named to the East-West Shrine Bowl 1000 watch list this summer. Sophomore left tackle Trevor Mayberry made strides after starting every game as a freshman last season.
“I had all day back there today,” Sayin said. “They did a great job identifying who was coming. We had a great week of film study. We were pretty set up in our protections, and it showed on the field with a lifetime in the pocket,” he added.
While Penn was playing in their season opener, Colgate had played two games before the contest. After opening the season with a 41-10 loss against Stanford, they responded with a 21-18 win against Maine. Colgate played all three contests on the road and will have their home opener next week against Holy Cross.
Colgate quarterback Michael Brescia is a dynamic athlete who threw the ball 29 times against Penn after only attempting 30 passes combined in the Stanford and Maine games. Penn successfully contained Brescia when he did run, with linebacker Jonathan Melvin contributing 2.5 tackles for loss.
Quakers defensive end Jake Heimlicher was in Colgate’s backfield all afternoon, recording two sacks and two quarterback hits. Defensive tackle Joey Slackman recorded a sack and two tackles for loss and will see an expanded role this season with Prince Emili on the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad.
Cornerback Kendren Smith returned to action after a season-ending injury early last season. Smith played an instrumental part in defending against Brescia’s 29 pass attempts, recording a pass breakup and six tackles.
“Today meant everything,” Smith said. “Being injured and trying to fight back last year, understanding that it would not work. But still being there for my teammates doing whatever part I can do. Today, it felt like everything would come to fruition.”
Penn will return to Franklin Field next weekend to face another Patriot League opponent in Lafayette. Defensive end Malik Hamm is a standout player for the Leopards and was on this year’s East-West Shrine Bowl 1000 watch list.