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Penn beats Columbia despite red-zone struggles

Penn entered Saturday's game searching for their first conference win. They would pull it out 13-10 despite coming up short multiple times in the red zone.

Penn quarterback Ryan Glover throws the football against Lehigh on Saturday, September 22, 2018 in Philadelphia.
Penn quarterback Ryan Glover throws the football against Lehigh on Saturday, September 22, 2018 in Philadelphia.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Red-zone mistakes were Penn's  biggest obstacle, but the Quakers found a way to overcome them in a 13-10 win over Columbia on Saturday at Franklin Field..

"It's always good to win. Winning is hard, week in and week out. Especially harder when you have opportunities that you let slip away," Penn coach Ray Priore said. "I felt after that first half, we should have been up 21 to nothing."

Foreshadowing a day of red-zone woes, the Quakers' one-two punch of quarterback Ryan Glover and running back Karekin Brooks got Penn (4-1, 1-1 in Ivy League) off to a promising opening series, however penalties stalled the drive and held Penn's offense to a field goal.

Midway through the second quarter, Penn got on the board again with a 21-yard field goal by Jack Soslow for a 6-0 lead the Quakers took into halftime.

The Lions (3-2, 0-2) began the second half scoring 10 unanswered points after Josh Bean completed a 21-yard pass to Kaleb Pitts for a touchdown — his first-career score for the Lions — and Columbia kicker Chris Alleyne connected on a 46-yard field goal.

Midway through the third quarter, Priore went to backup quarterback Nick Robinson to give Glover an opportunity to analyze what Columbia was doing defensively. It eventually worked late in the fourth quarter.

"I thought we were stalling a little bit. We didn't have that mojo on offense and we just put Nick in so that we could get something off and going. We're not afraid to do that," Priore said. "Sometimes it's not bad to get a different perspective and step out of the limelight, watch what's happening and then go back and play."

On the Quakers' next drive, Glover was back under center and helped the offense gain some traction, but it would once again struggle to capitalize in the red zone, with a missed 25-yard field goal. The Quakers eventually get back on the board midway through the fourth quarter on a Glover four-yard touchdown run.

Quakers defensive back Mohammed Diakite solidified the win late in the fourth quarter with an interception from Columbia quarterback Josh Bean.

Glover finished the day with 185 yards and one touchdown. Brooks totaled 70 rushing yards and Abe Willow, Penn's second running back, totaled 67 yards. The team was 3 for 6 in red-zone scoring

"I think we are sporadic right now. We are misfiring right now. Our kids play hard. I'm not sure we're playing as technically best as we can. We have to get better in a lot of areas," said Piore. "Today, we fumbled the ball and gave them the ball back. We missed an extra point and gave them the ball back. Field position is such an important part."

The Quakers next host Yale (3-2, 1-1) on Friday.