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Junior signal-caller Gavin Hoffman had a career day on Saturday at Franklin Field, shattering Penn records by throwing for 476 yards and hitting three different wideouts for 100-plus apiece.. (Angie Louie/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

In leading one of the most dramatic comebacks in the long and storied history of the Penn football team, Gavin Hoffman proved Saturday that he has the poise as well as the arm to be considered one of the Quaker's best-ever quarterbacks. With the Red and Blue (4-3, 3-1 Ivy League) trailing Brown (4-3, 1-3), 38-20, with just under five minutes to go, Hoffman took to the field having already thrown for 304 yards -- his fifth game of the season with more than 300. But it was touchdowns more than yardage that Penn needed. And with time ticking away, it needed to score quickly. "We just needed someone to step up and make a play just to get everyone back in the game," Hoffman said. That someone was Hoffman, who pinpointed Penn wide receiver Rob Milanese on a 48-yard bomb to put the Quakers on the Brown eight-yard line. The long play sparked what would be Hoffman's finest performance in red and blue. In less than four minutes, the senior passed for 124 additional yards in three drives -- all resulting in touchdowns -- to give his team a miraculous, 41-38 lead with 28 seconds remaining. "I know how good this Penn offense is," Brown coach Phil Estes said. "I knew that giving them the ball in that fourth quarter with any amount of time that there was a possibility that they were going to come back and score." With the slim Penn lead and enough time for one last scoring drive, the potent Bears' offense was still a threat that had to be dealt with by the Penn defense -- which had earlier allowed Brown to score three touchdowns and a field goal in five drives. But the enlivened Quakers defense stood strong, forcing the Bears to chuck up a Hail Mary from the Brown 36-yard line on their final play. Bears' wide receiver Stephen Campbell, who led his team with 124 yards receiving, caught the ball in Penn territory. Just before the all-time Ivy League receptions leader was tackled, though, he lateralled the ball to a teammate. This was followed by four more Brown laterals. "I ran straight for the goal line," Penn cornerback Joey Alofaituli said about this desperation play by Brown. "Regardless of what was going to happen, they just couldn't score. "I was scared out of my mind. They had five laterals, and my heart was getting faster and faster [with each one]." The Bears' final lateral, though, went over the fingertips of its intended receiver, sending the ball out of bounds with no time left. Alofaituli's fear then turned to jubilation as he realized the Quakers had finally won the wild game. "Just to see that ball finally drop to the floor with the time gone out was amazing," he said. After watching the ball roll across the sideline, Alofaituli's teammates and coaches stormed Franklin Field to celebrate the sensational win, which kept Penn in a four-way tie for first place in the Ivy League with just three games remaining. Hoffman, the catalyst of the miraculous comeback, had 476 yards passing against Brown, shattering his previous Penn record of 399 yards, set last year against Columbia. With a net total of six yards rushing -- including a one-yard quarterback sneak into the end zone to make the score 38-33 with 2:49 to go -- Hoffman also ended just eight yards short of Reds Bagnell's 50-year-old mark of 490 yards total offense in a game. The only glaring dark spot on Hoffman's otherwise brilliant day came in the final seconds of the first quarter, when he threw a costly interception from his own end zone. The pick was returned for a five-yard Brown touchdown, giving the Bears a 14-13 lead. "Obviously there's degrees of mistakes, and that was probably as bad a mistake as he'll make the entire year," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "To his credit, he really doesn't get flustered very much. He's done a nice job of coming back and playing proficiently." Indeed, Hoffman did come back in the next Penn drive, launching a 29-yard rocket to Penn wide receiver Colin Smith on a third-and-eight play to set the Quakers up on the Brown 23-yard line. Three plays later, running back Kris Ryan -- returning from a sprained knee injury suffered two weeks ago against Columbia -- found a wide-open hole in the Brown line to run for a 15-yard touchdown and a 20-14 Penn lead. That was to be the last scoring drive the Quakers offense would have until the three magical drives in the fourth quarter, which took 27, 17 and 73 seconds, respectively.

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