Quakers open with second-half flurry

Christian Pearson (7) and Justin Watson (5) celebrate a touchdown in the second quarter of Penn’s 42-24 win on Saturday.

Penn looked like a team that had most everything back except for it its three-year starting quarterback.

For one half, anyway.

After that the two-time defending Ivy League champions played, well, more like a reigning champ. For openers at least. The Quakers scored 35 points in a 15-minute span of the third and fourth quarters Saturday afternoon at Franklin Field against Division II Ohio Dominican, a late addition to the schedule that was playing its third straight road game. The Panthers have now lost them all.

Your final was 42-24. The Quakers are 1-0 for the first time since 2013, and just the third time in the last 11 seasons. Next week, they’re at Lehigh, which is 0-3 after losing, 56-28, at home to Yale. But the Mountain Hawks did beat Penn by 21 each of the past two years.

Justin Watson had eight catches for 134 yards and their first two touchdowns. That you expect. But when Tre Solomon went out early with a left ankle injury, sophomore Karekin Brooks took over and rushed for 142 yards on 10 carries with two scores, including a 64-yard run that made it 35-17 with 13 minutes to go where he cut all the way back across the field after being initially stopped at the line of scrimmage. Coach Ray Priore said Solomon’s injury isn’t considered serious.

Quarterback Will Fischer-Colbie looked inconsistent at first. He came out for two series in the second quarter, which Priore said was planned. The Quakers scored on the first one. Backup Nick Robinson also played in the fourth period and ran for the final TD. Fischer-Colbie finished 18-for-29 for 198 yards and two scores. Robinson’s only completion, to Watson, went for a 59-yard TD in which Watson did much of the work. Still counts.

“I was definitely a little bit (nervous),” Fischer-Colbie said. “You could probably tell. I had to get my feet underneath me. Then I felt like I was just playing football again. There’s no need to get stressed. You have to enjoy it.”

The Quakers had 101 more yards on 21 fewer snaps. They rushed for 302 yards on 33 attempts. And the defense stopped the visitors on fourth-and-1 at their 36 early in the fourth when the lead was 11. Brooks, who had seven carries in 2016, went all the way on the next play.

“We always say every win is a good win,” Priore stressed. “It’s building blocks. We understand we’re all in this together. We’re all pieces of it.”

Added Watson: “The first half didn’t go the way we’d hoped. But we responded well.”

Two-time defending champs with a bunch returning can do that.