Friday night lights.
Penn football will open its Ivy League season in a dramatic setting, taking on Dartmouth on Friday night at historic Franklin Field. “The Frank” is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary.
The last time the Quakers (1-1) took on the Big Green (2-0) at home was two years ago when Dartmouth scored the winning touchdown on the last play of the game. Last season, the Quakers took another loss to Dartmouth, that time in Hanover, N.H.
Dartmouth currently has two nonconference games under its belt against Jacksonville and Colgate. Both were blowout games, with Jacksonville managing to score one touchdown and Colgate only able to make a single field goal.
The Quakers are coming off of a close win against Lafayette. The Ivy opener will be their first home competition of the year.
Big Green quarterback Jared Gerbino is coming off of three career highs in Dartmouth’s game against the Raiders last week. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns in the 38-3 victory.
Typically a wildcat quarterback with over 1,000 rushing yards, Gerbino has already achieved personal highs in passing in a season after just two games.
“[Dartmouth has] a really good balanced running attack, and they do a lot of nice action passes off of those bootleg play-action passes that really plays into the aggressiveness of a defense at times,” coach Ray Priore said.
“If [we] score points and they get behind, they have to change a little bit of what they’re doing. Both first games they’ve been up in score and by being in that way, they’ve been able to stay with their game plan all the way through.”
In comparison, Penn senior quarterback Nick Robinson threw 18-of-25 for 270 yards and two touchdowns in Penn’s most recent game against the Leopards.
“[Robinson has] been executing. He’s making a lot of smart decisions and putting us in the right play,” Priore said. “He’s taking charge of the leadership role he has on the field. The guys are behind him.”
Friday night’s game will be the first Ivy game of Penn’s 2019 season and the beginning of the battle for the Ivy League title.
“We’re not lucky to go to the playoffs. We don’t have that. So really winning our League is the most important,” Priore said.
One of the keys to Penn’s success will be senior running back Karekin Brooks. In the past two games, he has gained a total of 360 yards.
“[Brooks] is a very, very talented athlete,” Priore said. “He’s blessed with some size, speed, quickness, and I would say he’s a very patient runner. He runs with his eyes, he’s very under control, and he’s able to make simple plays into big plays.”
Brooks plans on taking on Dartmouth as he would any other game, but he is looking forward to the energy that playing on a Friday night will bring. Penn’s games are usually on Saturdays, with this competition being the only Friday game of the year.
“Line up, play fast, play physical,” Brooks said. “Friday night games are fun. Go back to high school and everybody played Friday night; that’s the big thing.”
The combination of celebrating Franklin Field, playing on a Friday under the lights, and opening Ivy play should make for an exciting matchup.
The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and will be aired on ESPNU.