The world has changed a lot in the past two years, but even after all this time, it’s still the same old, same old for the Quakers.
On Oct. 1, Penn football (1-2, 0-1 Ivy) was finally able to make its return to Franklin Field, taking on rival Dartmouth (3-0, 1-0 Ivy) to open the Ivy League season. But just like the last three times the old foes met, the Big Green came out on top, this time by a score of 31-7.
Dartmouth, the defending Ivy League co-champions with Yale, started off the game in possession of the ball, and the Quaker defense was quick to respond. The Big Green ended the drive by getting sacked by Penn senior defensive lineman Joey Slackman for a loss of one. The first drive for Penn was short, as the Quakers only converted to first down once. Penn’s punt was then blocked by Dartmouth, and the Big Green quickly scored the first touchdown of the game. With six minutes and ten seconds to go in the quarter, Penn was already trailing, 7-0.
The Red and Blue came back stronger on their next drive, with two total plays and less than a minute drive for a touchdown. Senior quarterback John Quinnelly completed a long, 73-yard pass to senior wide receiver Ryan Cragun, down to seven yards from the goal line. On the next play, graduate student running back Isaiah Malcome rushed for the touchdown and tied the score at 7-7.
“It was one of the plays that we wanted to hit during the week. Cragun did a great job at catching the ball. My O-Line came in great,” Quinnelly said.
The Big Green dominated the rest of the first and second quarter, leaving little time for Penn’s offense on the field. Dartmouth made a field goal and two touchdowns in that span, extending its lead to 24-7 by the end of the half.
The Quakers came back from halftime determined not to give up any more points. Throughout the third quarter, the teams switched possession of the ball eight times. The defense successfully kept Dartmouth’s drives short, but the Red and Blue were also unable to score, still trailing by 17.
“After the first half didn’t go our way, we tried to control the line in the sand, and say no more,” graduate student and defensive lineman Prince Emili said.
In the last Penn drive of the quarter, the Red and Blue pushed the ball a little over halfway across the field, thanks to two first down conversions and a penalty on Dartmouth for roughing the passer. However, Quinnelly then threw his first interception of the night, which turned into a touchdown for Dartmouth in the next quarter, bringing the Big Green’s lead to 24.
Coming back after that touchdown, Quinnelly threw his second interception of the game, which essentially sealed Penn’s fate.
“It starts with me, but I think we all know, as an offense, that we have to produce, and we have to make plays,” Quinnelly said. “We have to produce and put less pressure [on] the defense.”
The Red and Blue amounted a total of 141 yards and one touchdown, while Dartmouth totaled 413 yards to back up its field goal and four touchdowns.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. I think being surrounded by coaches and players like I have on my team, it makes it a lot of fun,” Quinnelly said. “It is also great having guys that are motivated to get better. Obviously that performance [tonight] doesn’t reflect that at all.”
Despite the final score, the Quakers can find encouragement in the amount of fan support at Franklin Field.
“Coming out of the tunnel and seeing all the freshmen there, it was great to see it. It was great to be home," coach Ray Priore said. “With the first two games on the road, it’s a whole different experience.”
Penn will look to snap its two-game losing skid on Oct. 9, when the Quakers host Lehigh (0-4) at 1 p.m. at Franklin Field.