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After two shared Ivy League titles in previous years, the Quakers were finally able to win the title outright in 1984.

Credit: DP Archives

This story is part of a series on Penn football's 18 Ivy League titles. Click here to read about the team's 1983 championship.

Dynasties dominate their leagues for an extended period, and that's exactly Penn football did in the 1980s.

Right in the middle of their hot streak was the 1984 season, where the Quakers went 8-1 overall and 7-0 in Ivy League play. They earned their third consecutive conference title and first outright since 1959, starting a run of three consecutive championships as outright winners.

"Coach Dan Staffieri said it best, 'We Will Share No More in '84!' In 1982, we shared the Ivy title with Dartmouth and Harvard," said Tim Chambers, who was a senior during the 1984 season. "In 1983, we shared with Harvard. So it was only fitting that we would play Harvard for the outright championship in 1984. We had 38,000 fans at Franklin Field and won, 38-7. It was the perfect ending to our four-year commitment to turn the program around and in many ways re-established a standard of football excellence that continues today."

Chambers was a significant factor in the 1984 team's success. He was awarded the Asa S. Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League's Most Valuable Player and remained the only defensive back ever to win the award until 2018.

The Red and Blue started the season with a commanding victory over Dartmouth. The game was played in Hanover, N.H, and before the fans had settled into their seats, Penn had already scored 14 points and never looked back to win by a dominant 55-24 margin.

The Red and Blue would win three more games against Davidson, Columbia, and Brown by scores of 19-14, 35-7, and 41-14, respectively, before dropping a game to Army, 48-13.

On Oct. 27, 1984, the Quakers played against Yale on Homecoming at Franklin Field, which remains one of the greatest games in program history.

Much like in the Dartmouth contest, the Red and Blue started the game on a quick 14-0 run. On Penn's first play from scrimmage, quarterback John McGeehan dropped back and found wide receiver Jim O'Toole slanting over the middle, one step ahead of Yale cornerback Tim Kotkiewicz. McGeehan threw the ball 40 yards in the air and hit O'Toole in stride for a 72-yard touchdown. Penn regained possession with 6:49 remaining in the first quarter of the game, which resulted in a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.

The Elis would not go away quietly, narrowing the lead to 17-10 at halftime. At the beginning of the second half, the Quakers led a drive that ended in a two-yard touchdown for sophomore Rich Comizio to give the team a 24-13 lead.

"We had a lot of success with that play," Comizio said. "We made some mistakes earlier, but we finally stopped playing like we were asleep."

With 6:14 left to play, the Elis stormed back with a two-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 24-19. The Yale players then lined up for a two-point conversion and fooled the Penn defense, making the score 24-21.

The Red and Blue would add a 45-yard field goal, which gave them a six-point lead with 3:44 remaining. The Penn defense then came up big with an interception at the Yale 48-yard line, which led to a 20-yard touchdown and a 34-21 victory.

"There was no doubt in our minds that we were going to find a way to win the game," coach Jerry Berndt said. "For some reason, we just seem to have to make Homecoming games exciting."

The next week, the Quakers rebounded from their scare against Yale and came away with a 27-17 win against Princeton after defending a one-touchdown lead late in the contest

On Nov. 10, Penn defeated the Crimson 38-7 at Franklin Field in front of 38,810 fans to clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title. 

The Quakers made a 41-yard field goal in the second quarter that broke a 7-7 tie, and the team never looked back. As time expired in the game, Berndt left Franklin Field on his players' shoulders as the crowd rushed to the dressing room, tossing cigars to the assistant coaches.

The next week, Penn would dominate Cornell with a 24-0 victory to secure an undefeated season in the Ivy League, the first since Dartmouth in 1970, and an outright title.

At the time, Penn quarterback John McGeehan reflected on his experience at Penn, and he realized he had cemented his spot in the program's history.

"I was in high school and the only thing I knew was that Penn lost a lot," McGeehan said. "But today I began to think about being on the first Penn team to finish unbeaten in the League. I thought about being involved in the good old days."