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Turn Back the Clock | Loftus leads Penn football past Brown on 2012 Homecoming

Penn football defeated Brown in its 2012 homecoming game, 20-17, in the last two minutes with a field goal from then-sophomore Connor Loftus (left). After the game, Loftus celebrated with the team, having drilled the game-tying and game-winning field goals.

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Despite the recent struggles of Penn Football’s 2014 campaign, with Brown in town this weekend for homecoming we look back to 2012 when Penn inched a win out of Brown

On October 27, 2012, the Quakers hosted the Bears. Though the Red and Blue sat near the top of the Ivy League, the team’s homecoming matchup was Brown, which held one of the league’s top defenses.

Penn didn’t dominate on either side of the ball. Fortunately for them, neither did the Bears.

The game was run not by the offense or the defense, but by the special teams as the matchup featured 14 total punts between the Ancient Eight foes.

Fortunately for the Red and Blue their special teams was that much better.

Penn managed to punt the ball within the 20-yard line five times. Which, more often than not lead to long scoreless drives for the Bears.

Following a Brown field goal in the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Bears lead 17-14. Defensive back and kick returner Dexter Davis returned the proceeding kickoff to the Bears’ 49-yard line.

Unfortunately for Brown, Davis wasn’t the only special teams stud that weekend; as Connor Loftus drilled a 45-yard game tying field goal. A few minutes later he hit a 35-yard game winning field goal.

“In any close game, special teams play tilts field position,” Bagnoli said, “Ultimately it’s how tight games are won.”

The Red and Blue would go on to take the Ivy crown for the third time in four years.

If you ask anyone, Penn’s strength, and only consistent unit, that season was its special teams.

Though this time around Penn isn’t atop the Ivy League, just like two years ago, Penn’s homecoming opponent is Brown, and like two years ago, The Quakers’ special teams looks good.



Q&A: Former Philadelphia Eagles tackle and current U.S. Congressman Jon Runyan (R-NJ)

Former Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle and current U.S. Congressman Jon Runyan (R-NJ) speaks to Penn students at Huntsman Hall on Tuesday night.

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Former Eagles offensive tackle and current Congressman Jon Runyan (R-NJ) came to speak at Huntsman Hall Tuesday night at an event organized by the College Republicans, touching on various issues across the political spectrum and memories from his football career. We caught up with the All-Pro after the event to talk Congressional football, Penn, and more:

Daily Pennsylvanian: You and [former New York Giants defensive end] Michael Strahan, for your entire career, it seemed like your two names were next to each other in every sentence. What was your perspective on him getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, and what was it like being at the induction ceremony itself?

Jon Runyan: It was an awesome experience, and I just took the time out to really go honor him, because when you look at it, even when I played him, he was one of a dying breed. You know, there’s not a lot of people that played the game the way he did. Let me put it this way — and I think he said it too, also: playing the Giants was a litmus test for the season to see where you were at, and if you were right with yourself. So it was just an awesome experience to go out there and see that.

DP: You’re not the first NFL player to serve in Congress. There was Heath Shuler before you, Jack Kemp a long way back, Steve Largent… did you ever go to any of them for advice entering your first term?

JR: I’ve talked to Steve Largent several times, and actually never met Jack. But I talked to his son, Jimmy a couple times about how his dad was, and he goes: “It’s more about captivating a room, and talking to people and telling stories to people to get them to like you, and then they’ll listen to your policy. Don’t just start spewing policy all the time.”

It was great advice for me from Jack’s son on that aspect, and I believe also that this is the first time in 50 years that there will not be a professional athlete as a member of Congress. [Runyan has declined to seek re-election in 2014, citing a desire to spend more time with his family]

DP: Playing in the Congressional football game with Heath Shuler, did you even come close to losing to the Capitol Police?

JR: All the time. I mean, you have a couple former NFL players on the field, but you have to realize the Capitol Police, most of those guys just came out of deployment from Iraq and Afghanistan [laughs], and they’re all in pretty good shape. They’re not the officers you see running the metal detectors and the x-ray scanners… they’re the ones running around in tactical gear doing SWAT training and all that kind of stuff, and most of them played college football. So you’re pretty much outmanned, that’s why we never have a chance in that game.

DP: What would you say is the biggest problem facing your home district right now? [Runyan represents the 3rd district of New Jersey, which includes Burlington and Ocean Counties]

JR: Well, obviously, coming down the road, the sequester is going to hit us hard with the Department of Defense, and [we’re] still trying to dig out of this Sandy hole, even two years after. We’re still trying to figure out what the rules of the game are and what FEMA’s going to do, so there’s two big challenges we have ahead of us.

DP: [New Jersey] Governor [Chris] Christie has made a big push recently to legalize sports betting, which the leagues have all come out against. Do you have any opinion on the issue?

JR: It obviously would be a huge revenue booster to New Jersey, and I’ve written letters in support of it. But there’s a lot of legal issues that you’re going to have because of the fact [that] a lot of those casinos are publicly traded and have to work through that legal stuff, so it’s not going to happen as fast as most people [would] like it to.

DP: I understand this isn’t your first time at Penn. You’ve taken classes in entrepreneurship at Wharton before. What’s your overall perspective of the University in the time you’ve spent here?

JR: It’s been an awesome experience, and I can tell you the time I spent here in the Executive Education [program], the professors we’ve had that spoke to us, I still email them to this day and ask them opinions on stuff, because they’ll have a base knowledge in some area you don’t. It’s been a great experience, and its created a lot of long-lasting relationships.



Penn women's basketball picked for first-place tie

Earlier today, the Ivy League released the preseason media poll results for women's basketball and for the first time in the history of the poll, two teams have tied at the top.  Penn and Princeton - who played a de facto Ivy League championship game to end the season last year - each garnered 123 points to top the poll.

The Tigers earned nine of the 17 first-place votes, followed by Penn with seven and Harvard with one.  As we've been saying so far this week, the race for the title will be closely contested and likely come down to the final game between the Quakers and Tigers.

Harvard finished third in the poll with 106 points, after finishing 11-3 in the Ivy League last season. Following the Crimson are Yale (90), Cornell (61), Columbia (38), Dartmouth (38) and Brown (33).

This weekend, we got our first look at the women's team, who appear to have their work cut out for them in replacing second all-time leading scorer Alyssa Baron.  Meanwhile Princeton has a bit more continuity, returning four of their five starters from last year, including first-team All-Ivy guard Blake Dietrick.

Harvard will be led by first-team All-Ivy forward Temi Fagbenle after graduating first-team All-Ivy guard Christine Clark.

The Quakers will tip off their season on November 14th against presumed top-five Tennessee in Knoxville. 



Ivy League soccer roundup — Oct. 27

Junior midfielder Forrest Clancy's goal helped Penn salvage a draw after surrendering an early goal to Yale.

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Women’s Soccer

Harvard 5, Princeton 4

In one of the biggest Ivy matchups of the year, Harvard (9-3-2, 4-0-1 Ivy) defeated Princeton (5-5-3, 2-2-1) in thrilling fashion. After a back-and-forth battle, the match was tied, 4-4, in the waning stages of regulation. However, in the 81st minute, sophomore forward Midge Purce parked a penalty quick to give the Crimson the victory. The win puts Harvard firmly in the driver’s seat for the Ivy title, with Dartmouth trailing.

Brown 2, Cornell 0

It didn’t have the fanfare of the last matchup, but Brown (6-6-3, 1-2-2) and Cornell (7-8, 1-4) were also in action. With two timely first half goals, the Bears were able to take down the Big Red in what turned out to be a 2-0 shutout. It is Brown’s first Ivy win on the season. Meanwhile, Cornell continues to struggle — the only team below Penn in the Ivy standings.

Dartmouth 1, Columbia 0

The Ivy second-place Big Green (5-4-4, 2-0-3) was only able to score once against Columbia (6-3-5, 2-2-1), but it was enough to procure an all-important win. In the 19th minute, senior Tasha Wilkins drilled home a free kick for Dartmouth, whose defense made the goal stand up throughout the match. The victory keeps the Big Green within (a long) arm’s reach of first-place Harvard.

Penn 1, Yale 1

The ups and downs continue for the Quakers (5-5-3, 1-3-1), as they played Yale (6-4-3, 1-1-3) to a draw after 2-OT wasn’t enough to decide a victor. Despite strong performances from lone goal-scorer Juliana Provini and keeper Kalijah Terilli and an overall high level of intensity, the Red and Blue could not make the game-winning play.

Men’s Soccer

Penn 1, Yale 1

This is not the result that the Quakers (6-6-1, 2-2-1) needed. Much like their female counterparts, the Red and Blue came into the season hoping to contend for an Ivy title, but they have faced their share of ups and downs. On Saturday, Forrest Clancy continued his breakout season with a goal, but against a Yale team that ranks toward the bottom of the nation in RPI, this result is definitely a “down.” The draw means that the Quakers no longer control their own destiny as they try to chase down Dartmouth to win the Ivy title for the second season in a row.

Dartmouth 1, Columbia 0

Penn coach Rudy Fuller likes to say that anything can happen in an Ivy matchup, and things almost got crazy in a matchup between Dartmouth (8-4-1, 3-1) and Columbia (5-6-1, 1-2-1). Key word: almost. The Lions unexpectedly took the Big Green to overtime, but a timely Columbia header provided the decisive score, giving Dartmouth a victory, 1-0. With the win, the Big Green maintain a two-point margin at the top of the Ivy League standings.

Cornell 1, Brown 0

In a weekend filled with low-scoring Ivy games, the matchup between Cornell (9-4-1, 2-2) and Brown (3-5-5, 1-2-1) was no exception. After an impressive string of passes, the Big Red was able to park a strike in the upper-90 of Brown’s goal in the 30th minute. Cornell’s defense made the goal stand up, giving them the victory by a slim margin.

Princeton 3, Harvard 2

The Crimson (8-4-1, 2-1-1) came up just short in their comeback bit against the Tigers (7-3-3, 2-1-1) over the weekend. Princeton scored the first three tallies, but Harvard came back. However, the Tigers were able to hold on for a 3-2 victory in a crucial Ivy contest. Both teams are now two points behind the Big Green for the top spot in the Ivies.



Liveblog | Red and Blue Scrimmages

While most of Penn Athletics took their talents up to New Haven, Men's and Women's basketball are kicking it around in the Palestra.  Follow along live with sports editor Holden McGinnis.  Women's Scrimmage at 1:15.  Men's Scrimmage at 2:00.  We've got you covered.

Live Blog Basketball Red and Blue Scrimmages
 



Liveblog | Penn football at Yale

We are live in New Haven as Penn football (1-4, 1-1 Ivy) takes on Yale (4-1, 1-1) in the 100th year of the Yale Bowl. Follow along as Sports Editor Ian Wenik and I bring you the action.

Live Blog Penn football (1-4) at Yale (4-1)
 



Key Numbers: Penn football vs. Yale

While anything can happen any given Saturday, leashing the Bulldogs this weekend will be a tall order for Penn football. Delving into the game of numbers, one cannot find many reasons to pick Penn to beat the 17-point spread. Here are key numbers heading into the Red and Blue’s weekend game with Yale.

28: On September 27, Yale became the first Ivy League team in 28 years to defeat a Football Bowl Series school, ousting Army in overtime. While army itself is only 2-5 on the year, the Bulldogs’ historic victory highlights them as a special team in the Ancient Eight.

72.7: Penn coach Al Bagnoli is 16-6 against Yale for a winning percentage of about 72.7 percent, which ties Princeton for Bagnoli’s third-most beaten Ivy team. That being said, the last three games have gone to the home team, and the Quakers travel to New Haven this weekend.

109.9: Yale quarterback Morgan Roberts sets the tone for the Ivy League’s most prolific offense, boasting a 109.9 QB rating. For context, only Denver Bronco Peyton Manning, Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers, and San Diego Charger Phillip Rivers have higher passer ratings in the NFL. In the entire FCS, he has the fourth-highest passer efficiency rating, a category led by a gunslinger known all to well to the Quakers—Villanova QB John Robertson.

84: Yale running back Tyler Varga alone has recorded 84 points this season in all games, averaging over 16 points per game. This is only 20 less than the entire Penn team has scored all year. However, a “welcome” trend may help an already thriving Quaker rush defense: Varga has averaged only 9 points per game in Ivy play (which is similar to not having to play Peyton Manning but then playing Russel Wilson instead).

1: Penn has only recorded more passing yards than its opponent in one game thus far, which was a Dartmouth match where the Quakers gave up over 200 rushing yards. Even in a rout of Columbia, Penn allowed QB Trevor McDonagh to throw for 266 yards. With the Bulldog’s high power offense, something has to click for the Red and Blue defense, which ranks last in league play in sacks (2), fumble recoveries (0), and interceptions (0).

0: Technically, Penn’s and Yale’s conference records are separated by zero wins, as each is 1-1. Both lost their only game thus far to Dartmouth, who looks to be a legitimate contender for the Ivy League Championship. Both have also only defeated 0-2 teams, as Penn and Yale smashed Columbia and Cornell, respectively. Though non-conference play tells a completely different story—Yale went 3-0, Penn went 0-3—hope can be found in the fact that, in common games, the scoreboard shows little difference.

What do you think the result will be this weekend? Can the Quakers upset the Bulldogs? Have you come across your own interesting statistic? Leave your comments below, or tweet them at @DailyPennSports.



Penn football Alumni Q&A: All-Ivy Quarterback Billy Ragone

In his time with the Quakers, former Penn quarterback Billy Ragone set a school record for touchdowns.

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To Penn football, winning Ivy games in impressive fashion is nothing new. After defeating Columbia last Saturday, Penn looks to continue its recent success going into the weekend in a showdown against Yale.

In preparation for the game, we took the time to connect with former Penn quarterback Billy Ragone. A three time Ivy champ, Ragone credits a lot of his success on the field to good leadership that came from Coach Bagnoli. Over five years at Penn, Ragone started 35 games at quarterback and was named first team All-Ivy in 2010. He also set the career touchdown record at Penn with 56 total (36 passing, 20 rushing). Here’s what he had to say.

Daily Pennsylvanian: What were your football experiences like at Penn? What was it like returning for that fifth season?

Billy Ragone: Having a bonus semester is not something that everyone gets to have. While that didn’t lead to an Ivy championship we were certainly successful in the five years that I was there. … I thought the culture of the team was great. We were fortunate enough to be successful and that always makes your experience a little better. I couldn’t have asked for anything different in your college career.

DP: Do you think the leadership helped you to be successful?

BR: Absolutely. My first two championships were freshmen and sophomore years so having those older guys helping you through the process. And then my class and the class above me were used to winning and we did not take that for granted. We were looking to add to the unbelievable resume that Penn football has.

DP: What did you think of Al Bagnoli as a coach?

BR: His resume speaks for itself. He’s one of the most accomplished coaches in Ivy history so to play for a guy like that was something special in itself. A lot of the kids he attracted were hard-working kids who wanted to win, had good character – that was something we all bonded over, which made it easier to play for each other in a way. That all starts with Coach Bagnoli. His way worked and we were fortunate enough to be a part of his success.

DP: What about Bagnoli as a Coach was most memorable for you?

BR: One of the most memorable things for me was his ability to find success in every game. He challenged us to be better and build upon things that we were successful doing, while fixing our mistakes. … He didn’t care about how successful he was in the past. He didn’t want his players to hang their heads over an Ivy championship the year before. And that trickled down through the coaches: it’s a new day, new week, new year, and you’re only as good as your last game.

DP: Do you have a favorite memory from Penn football?

BR: One of my favorite games was at Princeton in my senior year (2012). We kind of had a bumpy road up to that point and we were able to rattle that off with a victory. We had a pick-6 from a defensive lineman to tie the game. Then we were able to punch one more score in, recover a fumble inside our own 10, and win the game. We were on the verge, we made a couple of great plays and we had to keep our season alive. We followed that up with a win at home against Harvard in similar fashion. But in that Princeton game, we all really came together and we had some unsung heroes. But really everybody contributed to give us a shot at that championship.

DP: You’ve done a lot of practicing against Coach Priore’s defense. What do you think of him as a coach?

BR: Coach P is – like Coach Bagnoli has the respect of every player and every coach in the League – [revered for] his defense. I know they’re struggling this year and he’s taking a bit of criticism but he always puts a polished product on the field. It was something difficult to go up against every practice. I certainly looked forward to going against other teams on Saturdays than going up against his defense. As far as coaching goes, the energy and passion he brings is second to none and he does a really good job motivating his players on game day, getting them to do what they need to be successful.

I have the utmost respect for him as far as defense is concerned. Competing with him on the practice field we had a good relationship. A little bit of trash talk here and there but it was good fun and all for the better of the team. I enjoyed sharing the football field with him for five years.

DP: Do you think that he will provide for a smooth transition?

BR: [Priore] has been there longer than Coach Bagnoli has so if there is anybody to succeed such a storied coach, I think he’s definitely the right person. He’s been a part of the program. He knows the alums. He knows the League. He knows what type of players he needs to be successful and we’re looking forward to him taking the reins and making a mark on the program instead of being a piece of the puzzle. We’re looking forward to him taking the reins and hopefully we can rebound a little bit and let Coach Bagnoli leave on a high note. Congratulations to Coach Priore for getting the opportunity and we are all expecting him to take advantage of it.

DP: So, what are you up to now?

BR: I’m currently working in New York for a startup innovation and marketing agency with another former Penn football player, Matt Makovsky. He graduated in 2005. He’s also a multiple Ivy champion, so that’s what I’m up to now and I’m looking to continue my career in the marketing field and enjoy myself.

…And my body is happy that I’m not playing football anymore

 



Why Yale will beat Penn | Greg Cameron, Yale Daily News

For the second time in three years, Yale senior running back Tyler Varga ran through Penn's defense, going for 85 yards on 13 carries in the first half Saturday. 

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Welcome to the third edition of "Why Penn will lose" as Greg Cameron of the Yale Daily News explains why the Elis will beat the Quakers on Saturday. Disagree? Comment below.

A year ago Sunday, in the matchup we’re about to see tomorrow, Penn football took a game from Yale, 28–17, at Franklin Field.

Decisively so, as the Bulldogs found themselves down 28–3 at the end of three quarters, and their two touchdowns in the fourth were not nearly enough to overcome the deficit. The loss, perhaps the only one in the Elis’ last five games of the season that reasonably could have been avoided, dropped Yale’s record to 0.500 for the first time and did serious damage to the team’s position in the standings.

Though Penn and Yale finished the season tied with a 3–4 conference record, the 28–17 final showed that at that moment, the Quakers were the better team.

But that Yale squad was nothing like the one that the Bulldogs are bringing to the Yale Bowl tomorrow.

A year ago, running back Tyler Varga ’15, the Ivy League rushing and touchdown leader who requires roughly four or five defenders to take down, was sidelined with a foot injury.
A year ago was the first start for quarterback Morgan Roberts ’16, who was still adjusting to head coach Tony Reno’s hurry-up spread offense after his transfer from Clemson. You could say he’s adjusted now — he’s averaging 331.8 passing yards per game, leading all Ancient Eight quarterbacks by over 70 yards. Last week against Colgate, he went off for 379 while still leaving room for partner-in-crime Varga to score five touchdowns.

A year ago, Yale wasn’t leading the entire 124-team Football Championship Subdivision with 46.0 points and 601.2 total offensive yards per game.

No one has been able to stop this offense in Yale’s first five games, and Penn’s seventh-best defense has not given much reason to believe that it will reverse that trend. Dartmouth came closest, holding the Elis to 31 points while quarterback Dalyn Williams led his team to a narrow 38–31 victory.

That isn’t to say that a win in this contest won’t be easy. After last year’s loss and Penn’s Ivy championship two years ago, no one doubts head coach Al Bagnoli’s ability to win big games.

But if Penn wants to steal an important victory in Bagnoli’s final year, it’ll likely have to do so the same way as Dartmouth did: on the offensive side.

Admittedly, Yale’s young defense has its holes, despite strong individual talent scattered around the field. This year’s defense has followed a consistent theme: allow big numbers for three quarters, and then make a few major stops when it counts.

Penn’s offense, currently ranked fifth in the Ancient Eight in points scored and riding momentum from its first win, may have what it takes to walk over the Bulldogs for all four quarters. None of its performances thus far have been particularly noteworthy, but this could be the breakout game for quarterback Alek Torgersen and his offense.

We at the YDN see this game as one that Yale should and must win to remain a legitimate power in the Ivy League. But it’s not one that the Bulldogs can’t lose, especially considering the Quakers’ motivation to turn their season around with a statement in this game.

If the Quakers can limit the damage that Roberts, Varga and captain and wide receiver Deon Randall ’15 create, and if Torgersen can lead his offense to another strong performance, we could see a completely different game from the one projected on paper.

All there is for our two newspapers to do, then, is wait and see.



Where are they now? | Miles Jackson-Cartwright

Over the summer, 2014 Penn graduate and former basketball captain Miles Jackson-Cartwright signed overseas with Dutch club Aris Leeuwarden.  And while we have to wait and see how the Quakers perform this season in his absence, basketball season starts a bit early overseas.

After serving primarily as a shooting guard for Penn, Jackson-Cartwright has taken on the role of point guard for the Dutch club and has found himself starting in three of the team's first four games.

It appears as though the transition was a smooth one for the Van Nuys, Calif., native at least on the court.  Jackson-Cartwright has led Aris Leeuwarden in points and assists per game with 17.8 and 6.5, respectively.

Jackson-Cartwright is one of four Americans with the team – all but one of whom graduated this past year.  Joining Jackson-Cartwright from the States are Marquise Simmons (St. Bonaventure), Ryan Watkins (Boise State) and Philip Bach (Santa Clara).

Aris Leeuwarden has started 2-2 in the Netherlands DBL with all four Americans starting alongside Dutch guard Dexter Hope.  The team struggled to a 13-25 record and seventh place finish last season, though with so much turnover in the league - only one of Leeuwarden's six most used players was with the team last year - team results vary greatly.



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