Between a rainy 10-3 football game and the infomercials for Bosley hair restoration and Miracle Slippers that interspersed the first half of Penn’s Ivy opener Saturday, I was a little bit restless. That bouncing egg in the Miracle Slipper ad was the most exciting thing I’d seen so far on Fox College Sports.
Then came the two-minute drill. The Quakers took over at their own 39, 1:39 remaining in the first half, and quarterback Billy Ragone deftly led his offense downfield — not with the legs that won him an Ivy title in 2010 — but with his arm, which ultimately burned Dartmouth.
On the drive, Ragone went 4-for-7, picking up 36 yards. Somehow, as the final 13 seconds ticked away, the Quakers got their field-goal unit in place and kicker Connor Loftus drilled a 35-yarder to take a 13-3 lead, a thrilling end to a banal half of Ivy football.
The efficiency and coordination with which the Quakers ran the two-minute drill would only be more important as the game wound down and Penn needed a touchdown to escape Dartmouth with a win.
With less than four minutes remaining Ragone coolly led an 89-yard touchdown drive — despite having his first touchdown pass called back for holding — to win the game and preserve the Quakers’ Ivy win streak.
If the end result isn’t enough, consider Ragone’s stat line on the game-winning drive: 9-for-9, 65 yards, one all-important touchdown.
A “great confidence booster for our offense,” Ragone called it.
Last season Penn outscored opponents by an average of two touchdowns.
Don’t expect the Quakers to barrel through the Ancient Eight again this season — this will be a year defined by the narrow victory, the two-minute drill and the late scoring drive.
Dartmouth is just the first in a string of improved opponents in the league this year. The ability to score under pressure will be a prerequisite if Penn plans to make a run at another title.
That the Quakers flawlessly handled that situation twice Saturday bodes extremely well for the rest of the season.
Nobody plans to win a game with 17-seconds remaining, but if you’re Penn coach Al Bagnoli, it’s good to know your team can. After this season, Red and Blue may need that number for Bosley, after all.
CALDER SILCOX is a senior science, technology and society major from Washington, D.C., and is Senior Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. His e-mail address is silcox@theDP.com.
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