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Rob Milanese hauls in a leaping reception in front of the Penn sideline after beating Harvard strong safety Juano Queen. The Penn senior had nine catches for 139 yards and a 22-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter from quarterback Mike Mitchell.

For a week, it was all anyone could talk about.

The Penn football team would finally, one year later, get a chance to vindicate its heart-wrenching, Ivy title-implicating loss of last season.

And to make the situation that much sweeter, go ahead and make both teams undefeated -- for the second year in a row.

The Quakers, who were picked in preseason polls to finish fourth in the Ivy League, against a stacked Crimson squad, with one of the most powerful offensive threats in all of Division I-AA.

With national media moguls crammed on the sidelines, the Penn football team pulled off a remarkably anticlimatic redemption for last season.

In front of 18,630 fans -- and multiple national television broadcasts -- the Quakers (8-1, 6-0) proved that this year's game wasn't worth all the hype, defeating the Crimson (6-3, 5-1), 44-9.

"Our kids have played magnificently well under pressure," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "They played about as well as they can play. It was never really a contest."

Apparently, just beating Harvard wasn't enough.

Penn went ahead and made it a blowout victory, handing the Crimson their worst loss in seven years.

"We knew coming into the game that this didn't have to be a close game," Penn senior captain Travis Belden said. "We knew that if we came out and played our game that this could be a blowout, and this could be a lot of fun."

Only three minutes into the first quarter of play, Belden and the Penn defense took control of the game, setting the tone for the rest of the game.

"It's probably the best team I've seen, the best defensive team, maybe since we've been here," said coach Tim Murphy, who is in his ninth season at Harvard.

Harvard quarterback Neil Rose dropped back, failed to find a receiver and ran the ball up the middle of the field. Only steps into Rose's run, Penn cornerback Fred Plaza tackled the quarterback and forced him to drop the ball.

Penn linebacker Steve Lhotak pounced on the opportunity, recovering the fumble on Harvard's 12-yard line.

Shortly thereafter, the Quakers took an early 3-0 lead after junior kicker Peter Veldman completed a 27-yard field goal.

Four minutes later, Harvard put its only points of the first half on the board, after defensive end Brian Garcia sacked Penn quarterback Mike Mitchell in the Quakers' end zone for a safety.

But the Crimson's momentum didn't hold for long. With less than five minutes to play in the first quarter, Penn defensive star Vince Alexander laid a vicious hit on Crimson quarterback Rose, forcing the second fumble of the day.

The ball tumbled straight into the hands of senior defensive end Chris Pennington, who collected it and ran 51 yards for the touchdown -- the first of his career.

"That was an amazing play, and it really probably turned the game around," Belden said.

Penn was far from through with the Crimson, however. By halftime, the Red and Blue had notched three more touchdowns and one more field goal, putting them ahead, 34-2.

Despite only rushing for 74 yards on the day, Penn's offense took a nod from the defense, and picked up its play steadily throughout the game.

The Quakers finished with 391 total offensive yards, thanks to the impressive connection between Penn quarterback Mitchell and his wide receivers.

Senior wide receiver Rob Milanese finished with nine catches for 139 yards, one touchdown and one penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after his TD celebration. Harvard's highly-touted Carl Morris caught a measly three catches for 16 yards.

"Our school newspaper likes to give the opposing team's receivers the edge," Milanese said. "I think I've proved them wrong a couple times. I was happy about that."

Penn gave the Crimson a slight reprieve in the second half, allowing Harvard to score a touchdown and only putting up 10 more points of its own.

"Seeing all the fans there, all the students, it was an amazing experience," Belden said. "I couldn't imagine a better way to end my career at Franklin Field."

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