Princeton's 10-10 tie at Dartmouth costs Penn seniors their third league crown "Princeton Ivy Champs." With about six minutes to play in Saturday's Penn-Cornell season finale, the message on the electronic scoreboard pierced the dusky clouds and rain hovering around Franklin Field. But it couldn't pierce the joy and pride in the victorious Quakers locker room afterwards. It didn't stop Felix Rouse, Miles Macik and Tom McGarrity from wearing grins a mile wide while recounting the big plays they each made in the final game of their careers. It didn't prevent Penn coach Al Bagnoli from expounding on the unparalleled success of this year's seniors. What that message did mean was the Ivy League trophy will not be spending a third straight year in Philadelphia. Penn came into Saturday's game needing some help from Dartmouth to gain a four-way tie for the Ivy League crown. The Quakers did their part, trouncing Cornell 37-18 to earn a tie for second place with the Big Red. But Penn's title hopes were dashed on the last play of the game up in Hanover, N.H., when Princeton kicked a game-tying field goal to sew up the championship all for itself. As well as they played the last two weeks against Harvard and Cornell, the Quakers just could not overcome a 22-9 loss to Princeton Nov. 4. "We certainly would have liked it to work out, but the only thing we could focus on was Cornell," Bagnoli said. "We wanted to win and let Dartmouth and Princeton battle it out. Give Princeton credit." The Quakers, meanwhile, get credit for overwhelming a Big Red team that came in with five straight Ivy League wins and easily the best offense in the Ancient Eight. Cornell's offense was in fine form at the end of the first quarter. Trailing 7-0, the Big Red took over at its own 22 and took 14 plays to reach the Penn 2 as the quarter drew to a close. But with the onset of the second quarter came disaster for Cornell. Running back Chad Levitt, the Ivies' leading rusher, was hit at the line of scrimmage on the first play, and the ball squirted free. McGarrity, Penn's senior defensive end and co-captain, scooped it up and took off the other way, reaching the Cornell 29 before being shoved out of bounds. "Tommy ran faster than I thought he was capable of," Bagnoli said. The Quakers went up 14-0 four plays later on a one-yard Jasen Scott touchdown sneak. "Anytime you get a turnover and the offense puts points on the board, it's huge for the whole team," McGarrity said. Cornell's Deon Harris fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the Penn 31, and backup defensive end Ron Heller recovered for the Quakers. This time, the Quakers took just one play to make Cornell pay for its mistake. Quarterback Mark DeRosa lofted a pass toward the left side of the end zone, and Macik reeled the ball in for the 21-0 lead. "We got the turnover and I was running out on the field and [offensive coordinator] Chuck Priore looked at me and said, 'Let's go. Right now,' " Macik said. "So I kind of knew the ball was coming. And it was a great throw." The Big Red offense refused to stay down for long, cutting Penn's lead to 21-10 with 1:15 remaining in the half. The Quakers took the kickoff and used four plays to get to the Cornell 38 with 24 seconds left. Then came perhaps the key sequence of the game. Rouse had his defender beat on a post pattern in the end zone. DeRosa put the ball right in his hands. Rouse dropped it. "That was the lowest of the low right there," Rouse said. "I went from that to the highest of the high." The radical change in fortune came on the final play of the half, just two snaps after the drop. Rouse got open on a slant pattern at the 20, where DeRosa found him. Rouse made the catch, cut back and sprinted left toward the end zone away from a trio of Big Red pursuers. He crossed the goal line just as the gun sounded. "If I wouldn't have [scored], I know I would have heard it from the school and my teammates for the rest of my life," Rouse said. "So I felt good. I felt redeemed." Coming when it did and in the fashion it did, the score, which gave Penn a 27-10 halftime lead, basically decided the game. "It was a backbreaker," Big Red coach Jim Hofher admitted. The second half was about preserving the lead, breaking a few individual records -- Greathouse broke the Ivy record for field goals in a season with his 11th in the third quarter -- and saying farewell to one of the most successful senior classes in Penn history. This year's seniors exit with a three-year record of 26-3. Not since 1910 has there been a graduating class with fewer than three losses in a three-year period. "I'm really proud of everything this team has done in my three years here?" McGarrity said. "You've got to be really proud. We always did the best we could." Rouse and Macik, each playing in their final game, combined for 251 receiving yards and two scores. Senior Dana Lyons picked off quarterback Steve Joyce and returned the ball 19 yards to the Cornell 8. That set up a touchdown run by DeRosa (15 for 27, 275 yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown) that upped the margin to 37-10. Macik, who will likely be named to the first-team all-Ivy squad for the third straight year, caught seven passes for 147 yards, leaving him just 54 yards short of Don Clune's Penn record for receiving yardage. His final reception of the afternoon gave him an even 200 for his career, which is the mark all future Ivy League receivers will be trying to reach. "[Two hundred] is a nice round number for me," Macik said. "That's not something I thought I'd be able to do in three years. There's so many people I'd have to thank. It's a great feeling."Comments powered by Disqus
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