Penn repeats as Ivy champs with 34-14 domination of Harvard
November 15, 2010, 1:20 am·
Rarely has an Ivy League football team shown such dominance as Penn has displayed in the past decade.
Saturday’s 34-14 defeat of Harvard guaranteed at least a share of the Ivy crown for the Quakers, allowing Penn to end the decade exactly as it started.
The victory — which brought the Quakers their 15th Ivy title and their fifth in 10 years — also marks the third time that Penn has earned back-to-back titles. All three occasions have come under coach Al Bagnoli, who is the only Ivy head man to ever achieve the feat.
“Given all the adversity they had to overcome, it’s got to be one of the more satisfying things that we’ve done,” Bagnoli said, referring to the tragic deaths of junior Owen Thomas and coach Dan “Lake” Staffieri in the offseason.
And much like the past decade might indicate, Penn (8-1, 6-0 Ivy) won Saturday’s game in dominating fashion. The Red and Blue capitalized on the opposition’s mistakes and held Harvard (6-3, 4-2) scoreless for three quarters.
And though the Crimson earned 410 offensive yards to Penn’s 278, it was the Quakers who dominated the scoreboard and demonstrated they were the better team.
While both sides struggled to get on the board in a defensive first quarter, junior linebacker Jason Rasmussen recovered a fumbled punt return on the Harvard 9-yard line. The result was a 19-yard Andrew Samson field goal with 12 minutes to go in the half.
Just like that, the Quakers were on the board and on their way to victory.
While the drive certainly sparked some confidence in the squad, it was not until linebacker Erik Rask blocked an attempted Harvard field goal — in his first play with the special teams block unit — that the Quakers truly gained momentum.
Six plays later and with two minutes left in the quarter Brandon Colavita punched it in for six. As a result, the Quakers entered the locker room at the half up 10-0.
But the Crimson’s special teams snafus didn’t end at the break.
On Harvard’s first series after halftime, Jac Dombrowski punted deep into Quakers territory, and Penn returner Bradford Blackmon let the football bounce into the endzone for a touchback. But in an attempt to pin the Quakers deep, a Harvard player slapped the ball back from the goal line. Blackmon recovered and ran to the Penn 39.
“As soon as the coverage guy hits it, it’s really a free ball,” Bagnoli explained. “Even if you fumble it, you can’t lose it.”
Once again, the Quakers capitalized on the error. Six plays later, quarterback Billy Ragone fired a pass to Jeff Jack for a 25-yard score.
On the Crimson’s next drive, Penn sophomore David Twamley tipped a Harvard pass into the hands of fellow defensive back Daniel Ritt for an interception.
And it’s hardly any surprise that Colavita and Ragone split rushing duties as they marched down the field for another touchdown.
With more than a quarter remaining, Harvard needed to make moves. Quarterback Collier Winters took a risk and went for it on fourth down from the Crimson 38, but his pass was incomplete. The Quakers took over and scored on a 7-yard Ragone run three minutes later.
Though Harvard did manage to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and spoil the Red and Blue defense from earning a shutout, it was not enough.
“A shutout would’ve been nice,” Rask said. “But Harvard’s a good team, and they’re going to make plays throughout the game. Fortunately for us, we just made more than they did.”