The Red and Blue are experiencing a kind of deja vu as they prepare to step onto the field on Oct. 1 against Dartmouth for their first Ivy League game of the 2021 season. After nearly two years of waiting, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
On Oct. 4, 2019, Penn and Dartmouth faced off on Franklin Field for the first football game of the 2019 Ivy League conference season. Back then, no one could have predicted that it would be the last time that the Quakers and Big Green would meet for the next two years.
This Friday, the Quakers will not only be seeking victory on home turf, but also redemption for their failed performance against Lafayette on Sept. 25. Penn football 'dropped the ball' last Saturday, as a series of failed plays sent the team spiraling to a 24-14 defeat.
While that score may look miserable, the good news for the Quakers is that it doesn’t count towards their overall conference score. The team has been working to pinpoint their errors in preparation for the upcoming game – the first one of the season that actually counts.
“We have Ivy League play coming up,” senior quarterback John Quinnelly said immediately following the Lafayette game. “Looking at some things, we definitely need to get better. But just overall, we didn’t take advantage of opportunities today, and we have to do that.”
The Quakers enter Ivy League play with a 1-1 overall record. However, Dartmouth will be fierce competition. The Big Green won their first game against Valparaiso 28-18, and then dealt a crushing blow to Sacred Heart, defeating them 41-3. The team's victories have largely been made possible by veteran team members.
On the offensive side, fifth-year quarterback Derek Kyler threw for 177 yards and three touchdowns against Valparaiso. Senior running back Zack Bair ran 11 yards for the game's final score. Junior quarterback Nick Howard was key to the Big Green’s first touchdown. Junior Johnny Barrett caught a 10-yard catch in the end zone.
In the Big Green’s second game, Kyler, Barrett, Howard, and Bair again proved to be instrumental in orchestrating the team's victory. On the defensive end, sophomore Cam Maddox and senior safety Niko Mermigas denied Sacred Heart some key touchdowns. Senior Jalen Mackie was also a force to be reckoned with; he was named Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
Dartmouth sophomore Paxton Scott is a rookie to look out for on the field this Friday. In an interview with the Big Green’s athletic communications department, Kyler identified Scott as an especially promising rising player.
"We had a few guys show up, Paxton in particular, and it was definitely good to see them make some plays,” Kyler said. “I’m looking forward to what they will do down the road."
In recent history, the Red and Blue’s record against Dartmouth isn’t promising. From 2014 to 2019, the Red and Blue have won one out of six games. However, looking further back in time, the Quakers have a rich history of defeating the Big Green, especially on Franklin Field. From 1998 to 2013, out of 16 matchups, the Quakers lost only two games total and none on their home turf.
That being said, this Friday will not be easy for the Red and Blue. But, coach Ray Priore is confident that the Quakers will be able to bounce back from their recent disappointment and give the Big Green the team's all.
“We’ll grow up, we’ll get better from this, and we’ll be back Friday night,” Priore said.