It must sound like a broken record by now for Penn fans, but the Quakers have to face another top-notch Ivy quarterback on Saturday. In a season when passing records across the Ivy League are falling faster than the prices at your local Wal-Mart, Cornell's signal-caller may well be the best that Penn's defense sees all year. The owner of virtually every single-season passing record at Cornell thanks to an awe-inspiring campaign last fall, Ricky Rahne is now looking toward another goal -- leading the Big Red to their first-ever outright Ivy League title. A year ago on Franklin Field, Rahne's 296-yard and two-touchdown passing effort left Penn on the losing end of a 20-12 decision, and left his image etched in the memory of the Quakers defense. But that game was for third place in the Ivies, not for the crown. Tomorrow, as a result of Rahne's hard work and determination -- as well as his 2,638 yards passing and 18 touchdowns -- the season finale is for all the marbles. And with this in mind, Penn knows who it must focus on if the visitors are to leave Ithaca, N.Y., victorious. "We very much are a mirror image of each other in that we both have very, very good quarterbacks," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "Ricky Rahne has really been a good player for them. He's very elusive, and he's done a nice job." True to Bagnoli's words, Rahne has been elusive in a number of ways in this season of wackiness in the Ivies. Last Saturday, Rahne did his predictable bit in the pocket, with a 32-for-44 effort for 258 yards and two touchdowns. What was devastating, though, was Rahne's 35-yard run down the right sideline for a score late in the third quarter. You usually don't expect that kind of mobility from a 6'3" gunner with that strong of an arm, but you might if that quarterback turned out to be a three-year letterman in track in high school. Still, Rahne downplays the ground aspect of his game. "I just kind of got outside and ran," Rahne told the Cornell Daily Sun, describing last weekend's touchdown scamper. "They were probably expecting me to throw it once I got outside the pocket, because that's what I usually do. "I got kind of lucky I guess." Much like the Quakers, the Big Red have gotten to the brink of a title courtesy of squeakers, comebacks and luck. Four times this fall, Rahne has rallied his squad to victory after trailing with less than three minutes remaining. "Rahne must instill a lot of confidence in his team because in all five of Cornell's Ivy wins, they've been down in the fourth quarter," Bagnoli said. "He's made a lot of big plays for them -- and they have a lot of confidence that if they can keep it close, they have a good shot at a win." Rahne's Cornell squad beat Yale by one point. And Princeton by one point. And Harvard by one point -- after trailing 28-0. Last Saturday at Columbia, the Big Red decided not to make it so close -- and won by four. If Rahne has his way, though, his strong arm and quick feet will terrorize the Quakers defense, and ensure there is no need for such last-minute heroics. Penn, though, feels it may have an answer -- somewhat. "Obviously Rahne is the hardest type of quarterback to defend -- the kid that can throw and can scramble," Bagnoli said. "But statistically, they don't feature their running game, so how Ricky goes, they go." Although Rahne has rushed for three touchdowns this fall, the Big Red's ground attack leaves a lot to be desired. Cornell has rushed for a league-low 660 yards -- which accounts for only 20 percent of the Big Red's total offense. As a result of this, Cornell is something of a predictable offense, one that relies on Rahne to lead them to victory. The junior has been successful in this task so far, despite tossing 10 interceptions and being battered to the tune of 30 sacks in nine contests -- compared with just 16 sacks that Penn's Gavin Hoffman has suffered. The Quakers, meanwhile, have won three straight, defeating two other premier quarterbacks -- Brown's Eric Webber and Harvard's Neil Rose -- in that span. And Bagnoli, for one, feels his defense has been able to take something away from those games -- though he still realizes the danger that Rahne brings. "The thing he has is the exceptional amount of plays that he makes late in the game," Bagnoli said, expecting yet another tight contest. "It's really a game of the cardiac kids on both sides."Comments powered by Disqus
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