Quakers shut the lights out in Hanover
89-yard, game-winning drive propels Penn in Ivy-opening night game
October 1, 2011, 9:18 pm · Updated October 3, 2011, 10:39 pm·
Katie Rubin | DP
HANOVER, N.H. — In Dartmouth’s first-ever game under the lights at Memorial Field, the Quakers and quarterback Billy Ragone stole the spotlight.
Down 16-20 with 3:57 remaining, Penn kept the chains moving on an 89-yard scoring drive to escape with a 22-20 victory and extend its Ivy unbeaten streak to 16 games.
Before that, though, Penn (1-2, 1-0 Ivy) looked as if it would engineer a third second-half collapse in as many games. Dartmouth’s All-Ivy running back Nick Schwieger, who ran for 125 yards on the night, scored on a 27-yard touchdown run up the middle to give the Big Green (1-2, 0-1) a four-point lead — its first of the game — with 8:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We knew Dartmouth was a good football team,” coach Al Bagnoli said. “We knew we were coming into a hornet’s nest, and the kids did a nice job of responding.”
The loss was a devastating one for Dartmouth, which was playing in front of over 8,000 fans. The Big Green faithful were so close they could taste it.
But then the Quakers got the ball on their own 11 yard-line down four points with just under four minutes remaining. Ragone calmly led the Quakers down the field on that systematic 13-play, 89-yard drive and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Ryan Calvert, leaving just 17 seconds on the clock.
Dartmouth’s Conner Kempe threw his second interception of the game to Penn’s Jason Rasmussen on the ensuing drive to eliminate all doubt.
While the end may be seen by some as lucky, it had been set up by the staunch Penn defense, which left its imprint on this one from the get-go.
Toward the end of the first quarter, Big Green wide receiver Tim McManus lined up in the wildcat formation and tried to run the option to the right side. As he cut up the field, senior lineback Erik Rask violently introduced himself and the ball popped straight into Penn junior Brandon Copeland’s waiting arms. The big defensive end plucked the ball out of the air and easily ran in for the score from 15 yards out.
“I should have done a touchdown dance or something,” the lineman said as he replayed the score in his mind. “[That’s] only going to happen once or twice in my life.”
Ragone praised the defense as well.
“Defense was doing their job all night,” Ragone said. “We kind of felt like we weren’t holding up our end of the bargain until that last drive.”
Indeed, Penn’s score on its final drive was its only offensive touchdown of the game. That said, its stable of backs, led by junior Brandon “B-Train” Colavita, did have another strong game, tallying 206 yards on the ground.
For Ragone, though, the game offered a sense of closure. Dartmouth’s Memorial Field was the site of the season-ending injury that cost Ragone his freshman campaign.
“I was looking forward to getting up here and taking care of business,” he said.
In what was supposed to be Dartmouth’s coming out party, the Quakers showed flashes of the brilliance that have given them the title of two-time defending Ivy Champions.
A consistent ground attack, a stingy defense and all-Ivy caliber play from their quarterback had “Penn football” written all over it.