Bulls in Spain are trained to make a full-on charge at the matador when they see his red cape fluttering in the wind.
For Penn sophomore quarterback Billy Ragone, it’s the same concept, just a different color.
“Get out of the pocket, see green and you gotta go,” Ragone said in reference to his first touchdown run in Saturday’s 35-28 overtime victory over Dartmouth.
As a running quarterback, Ragone reacts to open field like an eight-year old at the pool on a summer day: he jumps right in.
And against the Big Green, Ragone’s instincts resulted in three rushing touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime.
On a team expected to rely heavily upon its stable of running backs to keep a hard-nosed rush attack afloat, Ragone’s legs — even more than his arm — are providing a breath of fresh air.
That is not to say that sophomore halfbacks Jeff Jack and Brandon Colavita — as well as seniors Mike DiMaggio and Bradford Blackmon — weren’t able to establish a firm running game. Just that Ragone’s ability to extract himself from tricky situations makes every play that much harder for the opponent to defend.
For instance, Ragone’s first two touchdown runs — from 14 and six yards out, respectively — came on plays originally meant to be passes.
Ragone was supposed to drop back, mentally evaluate which receiver had the best chance of scoring and fire a rocket into his hands.
But alas, Ragone was given lemons. So he made lemonade.
“On the first one, they brought some pressure off the edge, so I had to get out of the pocket,” he said. “The second one, they had everyone covered up and it was just making a play.”
Ragone’s ability to think on his feet and make quick, informed decisions is what makes the difference between a broken pass play resulting in a sack, incompletion or interception and it resulting in a touchdown.
Indeed, it looked like there were two Michael Vicks playing in Philadelphia this weekend.
Luckily for the Quakers though, Ragone didn’t suffer injuries like Vick did.
But the native of Cheshire, Conn., did exhibit some striking similarities to the controversial Eagles signal caller.
I’m not about to sit here and claim that Billy Ragone is the next Michael Vick. That would be delusional.
But, in the context of Penn’s victory over Dartmouth, he brought to the table many of the same skills that make Vick so lethal. Not the least of which was his knack for getting the ball in the endzone when it really mattered: from the one-yard line in overtime.
“We were able to punch the ball in for six points this week,” Ragone said. “And that was something that we have been harping on all week — getting touchdowns and not settling for field goals.”
That three-point difference — as the Red and Blue tried to defend Dartmouth’s overtime drive — proved crucial because it forced the Big Green to attempt a touchdown on fourth down and not settle for a field goal.
And it was Ragone who made that little extra edge possible — with his legs, not his arm.
ELI COHEN is a junior philosophy major from Washington, D.C. He can be contacted at dpsports@theDP.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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