Ethan Alter | Penn football still has work to do after Dartmouth win
Game-winning touchdown makes up for some key mistakes
October 3, 2011, 10:49 pm·
Katie Rubin | DP
A gutsy performance, a huge win, a confidence-booster: Saturday’s game under the lights at Dartmouth was all of the above.
The Quakers flew (yes, flew in a plane) back to Philadelphia happy with the outcome and in some respects reinvigorated after two disappointing losses to start the year. The praise that has been afforded to the team is certainly justified.
As this week’s film session will no doubt show, however, the victory had its fair share of mistakes.
Though many of the setbacks Penn suffered during the game can be written off due to the weather or a young team still figuring out its identity, those excuses won’t fly if the miscues continue.
Coach Al Bagnoli made a very salient point after the game when he said that this team still has a ways to go.
As glorious and exciting as the final drive was, it was the only touchdown-scoring drive the Quakers engineered all night.
Brandon Colavita ran fast and hard, gaining over 100 yards, but had two crucial redzone fumbles (one lost) that cost Penn valuable points.
Defensive back Justyn Williams played well but dropped a sure interception in the first half that, with his speed, he might have taken for six.
Then, in the third quarter, Penn’s normally stingy front seven was seemingly manhandled by the Dartmouth offensive line. With the Big Green tailback tandem of Nick Schwieger and Dominick Pierre running wild, Dartmouth marched 80 yards in nine plays for a touchdown.
The kicking game in the Connor Loftus era remains a mixed bag.
The Quakers did a tremendous job to get three points as time expired in the first half. The ball was literally snapped just as the clock went to double zeroes and Loftus nailed a 35-yarder to put Penn up by 10 points.
Remember, however, that the young kicker also missed a 38-yarder and had another attempt partially blocked.
And right after the Ragone-Calvert connection that would prove to be the game-winning score, Loftus had his extra point blocked. Instead of being up by three, Penn’s lead was a precarious two.
With 17 seconds left, Dartmouth could have theoretically completed a long pass to get into field-goal range, spiked the ball and then won the game on a last-second field goal. Imagine what a debacle that would have been.
For the third game in a row, Penn experienced a marked second-half slump. For the first time this season, they were fortunate enough to come away with a win.
Next week, Penn hosts Fordham. The Quakers have two weeks — and one tune-up game — until their next Ivy League game, when Penn will face a reeling Columbia team that lost to Princeton this past weekend.
After the Dartmouth game, Bagnoli referred many times to his team’s youth, the 33 seniors he graduated last year and how he saw some “kids” grow up before his eyes.
Nonetheless, there’s still some growing to do.
ETHAN ALTER is a junior history major from Los Altos, Calif. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com