EASTON, Pa. -- When the handful of Penn fans who made the trip to Easton Saturday for the Quakers’ 28-24 win over Lafayette were driving home, they had plenty of offensive highlights to talk about.
Some probably talked about the Southern California connection of senior quarterback Nick Robinson and sophomore wideout Ryan Cragun, who jump-started a Penn offense that was sluggish early with eight catches for 128 yards and two first-half touchdowns. Robinson finished 18-for-25 for 270 yards, the two Cragun scores and no interceptions.
Others may have focused on senior tailback Karekin Brooks, who carried the ball 29 times for 204 yards and two more Penn touchdowns.
Chances are, though, few, if any, were talking about the guy who made the play that was key to the Quakers’ first win at Lafayette since 2006. That guy would be wideout Rory Starkey, a player who fans probably didn’t know without a scorecard. Starkey never played a down before this game.
Starkey, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Atlanta, didn’t get on the field as a freshman, and he missed Penn’s opener at Delaware, nursing a preseason hamstring injury. But with 2 minutes, 30 seconds to go in the third quarter and Penn clinging to a 14-10 lead and backed up at their own 1-yard line, Robinson called his number. Starkey responded by splitting the Leopards secondary and hauling in a 53-yard pass that got the Quakers out of that hole.
Although Penn didn’t score on the drive, their own punt pinned Lafayette back at its 4-yard line, and the defense came up with a three-and-out. The exchange of punts gave the Quakers prime field position at the Lafayette 42. Seven plays later, Brooks rumbled in from the 3 to give the Quakers a two-score lead.
“It was a great call,” said Robinson, who saw Starkey open on what was a run-pass option. “It ended up being a big-time play for us.”
Penn coach Ray Priore was quick to credit Robinson on the read.
“It was a gutsy decision," he said. "It totally flipped the field. Field position really helped us out there.”
The Brooks touchdown proved huge because, after picking up just one first down on their first four possessions of the second half, Lafayette took advantage of a Penn fumble and drove 80 yards for a touchdown and a two-point conversion to cut the Quakers’ lead to 21-18.
Brooks sealed the win with a one-man, three-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by his second touchdown, a 31-yard run with 1:43 to play. Lafayette managed a meaningless touchdown on the game’s final play.