When your quarterback has averaged 328.5 yards per game in his first two contests and your opponent has let up 42 points and 298.5 passing yards in its first two games, the odds of a victory are most definitely in your favor. Add to that your first team All-League running back's return to the lineup, and you're in even better shape. That's the scenario for the Penn football team as it faces Dartmouth tomorrow in both teams' first Ivy League game of the season at Franklin Field. The Quakers (1-1) are coming off an impressive 45-28 win over Lafayette, while the Big Green (0-2) have yet to win a game, losing last week to New Hampshire, 42-21. Although Dartmouth has lost both of its contests, the Quakers are ready for a battle. "I think they are much improved," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "They've had a couple of injuries in the secondary, which seems to hurt them. I think they are playing hard. They're averaging  yards a game of offense. They move the ball against everybody." But everybody has had no trouble moving the ball against them either. Last week, the Big Green allowed touchdowns of 39, 60 and 75 yards and allowed 21 points in the first quarter alone. Dartmouth's offense has been convincing, however. Against UNH last week, backup quarterback Greg Smith threw for three touchdowns and 283 yards, and Damien Roomets had a team-record 17 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns. "I think we played a couple of really good teams in Colgate and UNH," Dartmouth coach John Lyons said. "I think offensively we've made big improvements from last year. I think we're moving the ball better than we had." Penn's offense has been just as good. Over the first two games, Gavin Hoffman has thrown for 356 yards in the loss at Lehigh and 301 yards in the win over Lafayette. Hoffman found nine different receivers for the second straight game last week. Those targets included senior tight end Ben Zagorski and senior wide receivers Doug O'Neill and John Holahan for touchdowns. "Offensively, we continue to be somewhat productive when given opportunities," Bagnoli said. "We went in there trying to get a running game a little bit better established than we did against Lehigh. We ended up rushing for 150-plus yards." That running game should be further bolstered by the return of Kris Ryan. Ryan has sat out the first two games due to a high-ankle sprain, but is primed for his return tomorrow. "I'm happy to get back into the mix," Ryan said. Despite Ryan's return, the offensive strategy that has been so successful is not expected to shift. "I don't think the game plan has changed," Hoffman said. "I don't think we adapted it when he left. But he's certainly a weapon and we're going to get him involved." Coincidentally, Ryan made his first collegiate start in last season's Penn game against Dartmouth. In that contest, Hoffman threw for 196 yards and one touchdown, while Ryan ran for a then-career high 99 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown scamper in a 17-6 Penn win. That win made it two in a row for the Quakers over Dartmouth and six out of the last 10. Penn remains confident that it can make it three in a row tomorrow. In spite of a good performance last week, the Quakers know they have yet to put together a full game. "Overall, we played well last week," Penn safety Hasani White said. "The defense let down at times, but we held [Lafayette] to 198 yards. We held Lehigh to 300 yards. They hadn't been held to 300 yards in 15 years, so the defense is playing well. But we haven't played four quarters yet, three, maybe two quarters, but we've yet to play a four-quarter game and that's what we're looking for this week." A full game would be a welcome sight in the Quakers' first Ivy League game. They know that the first two games meant nothing in the standings. "We definitely realize there's a lot more riding on this game," Hoffman said. "If we lose this game, the games we play in November mean nothing." If Penn's defense can shut down the Big Green as it has its previous two opponents and its offense continues to roll, the Quakers should have little trouble gaining their first Ancient Eight win.Comments powered by Disqus
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