Even after punching in his career-high fourth touchdown of the afternoon, Karekin Brooks was all business.
Penn’s senior running back has been leading the way all season, so his 202 all-purpose yards in Penn’s 38-24 victory over Sacred Heart on Saturday at Franklin Field was no surprise.
Brooks high-fived his teammates after scoring Penn’s final touchdown, jogged back to the bench and simply took a seat, ready for the next offensive drive that would close the game. There was no need to showboat.
“It feels good but I’m just happy we got the win,” Brooks said. “Whatever it takes to get the win, I’ll do that. … All business until after we get the win. Then we have fun.”
Even if he didn’t let it show, Brooks had fun leading the Quakers (2-2, 0-1 Ivy League). He had 178 yards on 28 rushes and caught two passes for 24 yards. The first completion was a 17-yard screen pass for a touchdown that gave Penn a 24-3 lead late in the first half.
After the catch, Brooks went airborne into the end zone while noticing the defender tackling low. After the game, he and head coach Ray Priore laughed as a media staffer showed them the replay of his first career-receiving touchdown.
“I just tried to jump over him,” Brooks said as he began to grin. “Well, I did jump over him.”
Brooks even had a pass attempt on a trick play at the goal line in the first quarter. The ball was a bit late to tight end Sire Woods, something Brooks chalked up to a pass interference that was not called. He settled for a 1-yard score of his own, the first of his two 1-yard touchdown runs in the first quarter.
“What I’m rattled by is his patience as a running back,” Priore said. “When he decides to put his foot in the ground and go, he goes. He’s just a weapon.”
Both of Brooks’ first-quarter scores were set up by sophomore wide receiver Rory Starkey Jr., who finished with a team-high 129 yards on eight receptions. His 42-yard catch kick-started the Penn offense on its opening possession. His nine-yard reception two drives later was inches away from a score as he nearly grazed the pylon.
Starkey eventually found the end zone in the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Nick Robinson, who finished 21-of-43 passing for 267 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, hit him on the goal line for an 11-yard touchdown.
Penn’s offense put together 518 total yards despite changes along the offensive line. Senior starting left tackle Greg Begnoche sat out with an injury so Penn moved sophomore center Trevor Radosevich to left tackle. Senior left guard Ace Esobedo played center and backup sophomore left guard Joe Basiura moved into the starting role.
The changes were noticeable on a bad snap in the third quarter. Sacred Heart’s Kevin Peprah recovered the fumble and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown, making it a one-score game. But Robinson was sacked just once, and the offense was able to move seamlessly for most of the game.
“It was still open out there for me,” Brooks said. “We practiced with them the whole week and they were doing a pretty good job, and I think that showed out there today.”
The game was somewhat of a homecoming for Sacred Heart quarterback Logan Marchi, the former Temple starting quarterback in 2017 who transferred to East Tennessee State before arriving at Sacred Heart this season. Marchi finished 21 of 37 for 278 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The second interception, grabbed in the end zone by free safety Sam Philippi, sealed the game with 2:25 remaining. Penn finished its non-conference schedule with the win and will jump back into Ivy League play next Saturday, Oct. 19, at Columbia.