Penn football's dynasty bid up to Holland
It will take a backup QB in his first start to wrap up an outright Ivy League title
November 15, 2012, 11:56 pm · Updated November 16, 2012, 1:28 am·
The word “dynasty” seems to get thrown around far too often in sports.
But winning three out of the last four Ivy League championships outright? Then, perhaps, it becomes a word worth throwing around.
So when the Quakers head north to Ithaca, N.Y., on Saturday to take on Cornell, they’re playing for a chance to wear the crown all by themselves.
“I’ve been so blessed to be a part of this class and have the opportunity to win three championships,” senior quarterback Andrew Holland said. “It’s a special group.”
The senior class made its presence known last week, exemplified when captain Brandon Copeland sacked Harvard quarterback Colton Chapple for the game-sealing safety.
While the Red and Blue’s win over Harvard hasn’t been forgotten — and won’t be for a long time — another game was the first to be brought up at Penn’s Sunday meeting: last year’s 48-38 home loss to Cornell.
“Last year was no fluke,” coach Al Bagnoli said. “We’re going to go up there and they have every reason to feel good based on how they played last year.”
It was the only home loss this year’s seniors ever suffered in the Ivy League.
“It’s a revenge game for us,” Holland said. “It’s our mission to finish out strong.”
The gruesome ankle injury senior quarterback Billy Ragone suffered against Harvard will prevent him from being able to seek revenge over senior Cornell quarterback Jeff Mathews, who torched the Quakers for five touchdowns and a then-Ivy record 548 yards last season.
Instead, it’ll be Holland taking snaps for the Quakers.
He will make his first career start after successfully finishing for Ragone last week.
The transition from Ragone to Holland has been an easy one for the Red and Blue.
“I’ve gotten reps in practice. I’ve gotten reps in games,” Holland said. “I’m ready for this moment.”
Bagnoli doesn’t plan on changing the offense, even though Holland does not bring the same attributes to the field as Ragone.
“We’re going to run our offense,” Bagnoli said. “What’s the point in holding back in Week 10? There’s no Week 11.”
Even if it means taking him out of his comfort zone, Holland understands the circumstances, and he’s ready for the challenge.
“I’m not going to be Billy,” he said. “Billy’s a special runner, but I feel prepared.”
Ragone’s presence will still be prominent in the Quakers’ locker room on Saturday. He attended practice on Tuesday, and if all has gone well in his surgery, he’ll make the trip to cheer on his squad from the sidelines.
While Ragone’s injury takes away one of Penn’s rushing threats, the Quakers’ running attack wasn’t focused solely on him. Senior running back Lyle Marsh has eclipsed 100 yards on the ground in back-to-back contests.
Bruised as the Red and Blue may be after running 56 times for 227 yards against Harvard, they know what’s on the line.
“If we have to put starters on special teams, we’ll do it. If we have to give Marsh the ball 35 times, we’ll do it,” Bagnoli said.
“Whatever it takes.”