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Week One: Seventeen points off the board as a result of penalties. Week Two: A 38-7 lead nearly squandered before finally surviving in the end. Week Three: Business taken care of. With a 48-14 stomping of Dartmouth in their Ivy League opener on Saturday, the Penn Quakers not only proved that they have the talent to be a legitimate contender for the Ivy League championship this season, but they also proved they have the maturity to do so. And they showed how much they have grown in two short weeks. In the season-opening loss at Lehigh, Penn accumulated as many penalties as points. The Quakers had two touchdowns and a field goal called back before the Engineers could even get on the scoreboard. Instead of entering halftime with a 20-3 lead in that game, Penn was tied with Lehigh at 3-3. Lehigh went on to win 17-10, but if they didn't commit so many mistakes, the Quakers could have left Bethlehem with an upset over the nation's then-21st-ranked team. The second week was a different story, as Penn's offense let loose and put 45 points on the board. But after building up a 38-7 lead by the third quarter, the Quakers allowed the Leopards to score three straight touchdowns to cut the lead to 38-28. Entering this past weekend, it was difficult to know what to expect. The Penn football team is talented; there's no denying that fact. But through the first two games, it looked as though its youth and inexperience could haunt it as the season progressed. In the first few minutes of Saturday's contest, it seemed as though Dartmouth would exploit that problem as well. It was then that the Quakers proved they have the maturity and resolve to be the top team in this conference. After taking the opening kickoff before a sparse crowd at Franklin Field, the Big Green marched right down the field and put the ball in the endzone. The Penn defense looked helpless. It was the same Penn defense that let Lafayette right back into the game a week earlier, and it seemed as though Saturday would be a long day for the Quakers. Well... Dartmouth would not score again until two minutes and 54 seconds were left in the fourth quarter. In the interim, all the Penn Quakers did was put 48 points on the board, shut down the Big Green anytime they tried to put together anything resembling a drive and dominate on both sides of the ball. In that interim, the Penn Quakers proved themselves to be legitimate contenders for the Ivy crown. When the results of the preseason Ivy League media poll were released in August, the Quakers were ranked third behind co-leaders Yale and Cornell. Sure, everyone knew Penn was loaded with talent at the skill positions. But they were also losing experienced players on defense and on the offensive line. With Saturday's win, any skepticism that existed may start to disappear. After Dartmouth scored its first touchdown on Saturday, Gavin Hoffman took Penn 70 yards, ending the drive with a 35-yard touchdown strike to Colin Smith. On the first play of the Big Green's next drive, Penn defensive back Kunle Williams picked Brian Mann's pass out of the air, and the Penn onslaught was underway. The Quakers seemed to score at will for the remainder of the afternoon, while the defense stopped one Dartmouth drive after another. Penn coach Al Bagnoli acknowledged the maturation he's seen since the Lehigh game, noting the Quakers' ability to cut down on mistakes and not to let their inexperience hinder their progress. Dartmouth is not a good football team, and Penn certainly helped prove that on Saturday. Penn is a good football team. But on Saturday they proved they just may be a championship-caliber team as well.

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