Football set for lights, camera, Ivy League action
Quakers begin Ancient Eight season on national TV in first-ever night game at Dartmouth
September 30, 2011, 12:19 am · Updated October 1, 2011, 8:49 pm·
Rachel Bleustein | DP
The Quakers are starting their playoffs with a bang.
With a 15-game Ivy League win streak on the line, Penn heads to Dartmouth Saturday to play the first-ever night game in the 89-year history of Memorial Field — on nationally televised Fox College Sports.
“It will be fun to be a part of that environment,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. “The icing on the cake is being able to have a national television audience. That gives you even more motivation. The only thing left to do is go out there and play well.”
The Quakers (0-2) have won 12 of their last 13 matchups against the Big Green, but Dartmouth (1-1) has put up big numbers in the past few.
The Red and Blue escaped last year with a 35-28 win in overtime, and this year’s Dartmouth team is sure to put up a similar fight, as it returns 34 seniors.
“This is the year they’ve been pointing toward. … They’re putting everything together and looking to take that next big step,” Bagnoli said. “This is the year. They have maturity, they have experience and they have confidence in the system they run.”
Bagnoli said Dartmouth teams in recent years have lacked those
The Big Green offense is led by senior running back Nick Schwieger, who shared the 2010 Ivy League Player of the Year award.
Dartmouth leads the league with just over 200 rushing yards a game, but the Penn defense is well prepared for the Big Green’s explosive run game.
“Every practice, we’ve been going up against three of the best running backs in the Ivy League: Brandon Colavita, Jeff Jack and Lyle Marsh,” senior defensive lineman Jared Sholly said. “Those guys have prepared us well for guys like Schweiger.”
Sholly hasn’t played an Ivy game since 2009, sitting out last season due to injury. For him, this game has particular significance.
“The past two games, I’ve been getting a little bit of rust off, and I’m really starting to feel comfortable again,” he said. “I can’t wait to show everyone in the Ivy League that I’m back. I
think a lot of people forgot about me.”
Penn fans surely aren’t forgetting about the Ivy win streak that extends back to November 2008, but the team hasn’t even discussed it. Instead, they are solely focused on eliminating mistakes and winning a third-straight Ivy title.
“We haven’t mentioned it at all,” Bagnoli said. “We’ve had some issues in the first two weeks that we’re trying to resolve before we ever talk about any winning streaks.”
One of the issues that plagued the Quakers in the first two weeks of the season is turnovers. Senior wide receiver Ryan Calvert had a ball bounce off him and into a defender’s hands in last week’s loss to Villanova.
“We just need to execute whenever we get a chance to go out there and make a play,” Calvert said.
The wideout also had his first career touchdown catch last week, which has given him confidence heading into the Ivy season.
“I’ve been getting more snaps this year than I’ve ever had in the past,” Calvert said. “It’s much easier to get in a groove, so some momentum is definitely on my side.”
With a strong Dartmouth team that has put up a fight in the past, the Quakers will have their hands full.
But with the rust shaken off over the past two weeks, they are ready to shine on the national stage.
This article has been updated from its original version to now reflect that the game will be broadcast nationally on the Fox College Sports network.