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Penn Football beat Dartmouth 35 to 28 in overtime at Franklin Field Credit: Rachel Bleustein

For the past few years, Dartmouth football has been the doormat of the Ivy League.

But Saturday, Penn needed overtime to defeat a much-improved Big Green squad 35-28 at Franklin Field.

Dartmouth’s passing game excelled throughout the contest. Junior quarterback Conner Kempe finished with 239 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Meanwhile, wide receiver Michael Reilly gave the Quakers secondary headaches with five receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown.

“It was a hard-fought battle to the end, and we’re feeling good about the rest of the season,” Reilly said. “But at the same time, we don’t feel good about the loss.”

While Dartmouth (2-1, 0-1 Ivy) was the better team through the air, Penn had the advantage on the ground. As a team, the Quakers (2-1, 1-0) rushed for 231 yards on 45 carries. Quarterback Billy Ragone ran for 57 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Jeff Jack led the running game with 95 yards.

“We’ve been good at rushing the football the entire year,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. “We have a pretty experienced offensive line, some good tight ends, a good fullback and two or three tailbacks that we can roll through.”

At halftime, the Quakers were up 21-14 and were set to receive the ball to commence the third quarter. Penn wore down the Big Green in the first drive of the half, as the team went 80 yards in 7:29 ending with a Ragone touchdown pass to fullback Luke DeLuca.

After Penn forced a Dartmouth three-and-out in the next possession, it looked like the game was over — until Ragone threw an interception in Penn territory.

After three more plays, the Big Green found themselves on Penn’s 12, just two yards away from a first down. Dartmouth lined up for the field goal but faked the kick and ran the ball to the Quakers’ four-yard line. Dartmouth scored on the very next play.

“When you’re the champion, this is how people are going to play you,” Bagnoli said. “They’re going to fake field goals, and they’re going to go for it on 4th and short when the ball is on their own 30 yard line. They’re going to take chances.”

The Big Green used that momentum to force a Quaker punt on the following drive. With less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, Reilly made a spectacular 53-yard grab that set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kempe to even the score and sent the game into overtime.

The key play for Penn came when Ragone completed a 22-yard pass to David Wurst on third-and-eight. Ragone then ran the ball into the endzone from the 1-yard line for his third rushing touchdown of the day.

The Quakers defense was called onto the field to stop Dartmouth one last time.

“We always try to be the best defense on the field at all times,” senior linebacker Zach Heller said. “Once they scored, we told the guys, ‘they’re not scoring a point,’ and we’ve had that mentality all throughout camp.”

The final defensive stop sealed the win — Bagnoli’s 124th at Penn, which ties a record set in 1901.

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