As the third quarter came to a close Saturday, several members of the Yale football team held four fingers aloft. It was a gesture of confidence that said, “We own the fourth quarter.”
And why shouldn’t they have been confident? The Bulldogs held a 10-point lead with just 15 minutes to play. To that point, Penn’s offense had sputtered in the red zone. And Yale quarterback Patrick Witt and running back Alex Thomas were gashing Penn’s defense seemingly at will.
Then the Quakers scored four touchdowns in eight minutes to again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Witt said. “We were up by 10 going into the fourth quarter. I’d like to think that two scores going into one quarter would last a bit longer than it did.”
The heroes for Penn are familiar faces: quarterback Billy Ragone and coach Al Bagnoli.
Ragone had a career day, arguably outplaying the highly-touted Witt.
Bagnoli and his coaching staff made all the right adjustments in the fourth quarter.
The coach’s boldest decision of the day turned out to be the consensus turning point of the game.
He called a pooch kick that kicker Connor Loftus executed perfectly and that freshman Kyle Wilcox recovered. Bagnoli saw a vulnerability in Yale’s return formation and exploited it.
The ultimate result was a zig-zagging Ragone touchdown run that put Penn ahead for good.
Ragone, like any good quarterback, makes the whole offense better, and his ridiculous individual effort was accompanied by several other strong performances for the Quakers.
The offensive line must have eaten a quality pregame meal because the blocking for both the run and pass was superb for the majority of the game.
Joe Holder, Brandon Colavita and the ‘Receiving Ryans’ (Calvert and Mitchell) all stepped up and reaffirmed that Penn’s offense has some high-powered weapons outside the quarterback position.
Ragone is surrounded by talent, a cast of players that can certainly bring another Ivy League trophy back to campus. That fact is nothing new.
But last year, Ragone was a piece in the system. This year, he makes the system go.
While the quarterback is quick to pass credit to his teammates, he acknowledges that he’s being asked to do more this year. The success or failure of this team depends more on Ragone this time around. Such is the burden of the star quarterback.
Inevitably, both praise and criticism will filter up to the coach. The Bulldogs were badly outplayed in the fourth quarter on Saturday, but they were also outcoached.
This Ivy win was Bagnoli’s 100th. When asked about the significance of that number, he joked, “It just means you haven’t been fired in a long time, so I guess that’s positive.”
There’s a reason that Bagnoli hasn’t been fired in a while: he’s one heck of a college football coach.
He’s got one heck of a quarterback in Ragone, and after Saturday’s performance, it’s becoming clear that these Quakers are one heck of a football team.
ETHAN ALTER is a junior history major from Los Altos, Calif. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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