Penn beats Bucknell in season opener thanks to special-teams play, turnovers
Penn took a 17-0 lead early in the first quarter thanks to two turnovers and a blocked punt.
Penn's ability to force turnovers early in the game propelled the Quakers to a 34-17 victory over Bucknell on Saturday at Franklin Field.
The Quakers' defense and special teams caused problems for the Bison from the opening drive. Penn turned two turnovers and a blocked punt into points in the first quarter.
Coach Ray Priore said the opening five minutes — where the Quakers took a 17-0 lead — gave them the edge in their season opener.
"It got the momentum swinging our way and we ended up really taking that and running with it," junior defensive back Jacob Martin said. "I think it was a really good way to start our first game, too, and get the juices flowing on a turnover."
Martin had one of those momentum-swinging plays on the first possession of the game.
As Bucknell junior quarterback John Chiarolanzio rolled out to his left, he lofted a pass to senior tight end Andrew Owers. But the pass tipped off Owers' hands, and Martin made an interception that gave the Quakers a first-quarter spark.
"It went right through the guy's hands and landed in my lap," said Martin, who finished the game with five tackles to go along with the interception. "I was just playing back like I was supposed to, and I never in a million years would've thought that it would've landed in my lap like that."
The early turnovers and blocked punt made life easier for sophomore quarterback Ryan Glover, who made his first career start. The Quakers' first three drives didn't start outside of Bucknell territory.
Glover said the early turnovers alleviated some of the pressure early in the contest.
"It was amazing," Glover said of the short-yardage opportunities. "Everybody's mentality is just, 'We have to score,' as opposed to, 'We have to get a first down, or we have to drive.' The only thing you can think about is scoring and taking advantage."
Glover completed 12 of 21 passes for 138 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 48 yards on nine carries.
Junior running back Karekin Brooks also reaped the benefits of short-yardage situations. He rushed for 72 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns.
Prior to the contest, Priore said the Quakers could use Glover and junior quarterback Nick Robinson against the Bison.
Instead, Priore kept Glover in for the entire game because he didn't want to disrupt the flow.
Glover is the starting quarterback, but Priore said Penn could still utilize two quarterbacks in the future depending on the matchup.
"You're a really good program if you have two guys back there who can sling it," Priore said. "We do have confidence in both young men, and we're going to take it day-by-day. But that was a good first going to get that first win."