Penn football makes NCAA history with 1,300 games

1882 Penn football team Photo credit: University Archives

The 1882 University football team, which had a record of 2-4 that year.

The Penn football team takes on the Brown Bears Saturday afternoon in Providence, R.I., a contest that will mark the Quakers’ 1,300th game, the most in NCAA history.

Penn began playing intercollegiate football in the fall of 1876. The Quakers played Princeton twice that year, losing both times. They also played the “All-Philadelphia” team and won 4 goals to zero, the University’s first football victory.

John Heisman, for whom the college trophy is named, starred for the Quakers as a player from 1890 to 1891, and served as coach from 1920 to 1922. NFL and College Hall-of-Famer Chuck “The Rock” Bednarik was a standout for the Quakers in the 1940s.

For the past 17 years, Head Coach Al Bagnoli has led the Quakers. He says the 1,300-game milestone speak volumes about Penn's proud football tradition. “It’s something that we certainly have talked about with our [players] and it’s something that we take great pride in,” he says.

Defensive Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Ray Priore says the 2002 Ivy League Championship game against Harvard stands out as one of the most vivid. Both teams entered the contest 8-0, and ESPN’s "College GameDay" broadcast the contest live from Franklin Field. The Quakers beat Harvard 44-9.

“I’ve been here for 23 years and I guess you don’t get the sense of it until you, as I always say to our players, walk through Franklin Field in the morning before a game and think about all the legends and people and great players,” he says. “The great tradition that’s come before us, I think it’s something that we all take special pride in, that you’re not only just playing for the current time, but you’re playing for all those people who laid the foundation.”

Originally published on October 30, 2009