Following Penn football’s blowout loss at the hands of the Harvard Crimson, former Senior Sports Editor Brandon Pride offers his takeaways from the tumultuous home finale.
- Coming into the game, the player to watch for Harvard was star senior running back Aidan Borguet. While he certainly shined again against Penn, the true star was senior quarterback Charlie Dean, who finished with 316 yards, four touchdowns, and no picks.
- This mostly came down to the Quakers’ inability to defend outside the numbers and the lack of impact from their much-vaunted linebacking corps and pass rush, which was neutralized by Harvard’s gritty offensive line and well-executed scheming. Asked postgame what he saw from Penn’s front seven, Dean said, “Nothing.”
- In spite of this, senior linebacker Jake Heimlicher still made his presence felt, recording an athletic sack, his eighth of the season. Given the stellar campaign he’s had and the recent surge of Penn players in the NFL, it’s only natural to wonder if he will be next.
- While he would’ve liked to go out with a win, fifth-year wide receiver Rory Starkey, Jr. ended his Franklin Field career with a bang, recording eight receptions for 117 yards and possibly the most athletic touchdown catch I’ve seen by an Ivy League player. His performance was impressive but perhaps unsurprising, given the success he’s had against Harvard over the years: in three career games against the Crimson, he finishes with 18 receptions for 275 yards and three scores.
- Something I’ve noticed in my four years here is that Penn seems to have a knack for losing big, well-attended games played at Franklin Field. From the Friday night fiasco against Dartmouth in 2019 (which was recreated two years later), to a Homecoming upset against Cornell in 2021, to today’s must-win against Harvard on Parents Weekend, a clear pattern exists.
- One has to wonder whether this phenomenon has affected student attendance, as the few games that a lot of undergrads go to have largely been disappointments, leading to many student section early exits. Quite ironically, the one big win Penn has had in games like these was Homecoming this year, but great portions of the crowd left too early to see the victory, as Fossil Free Penn protestors interrupted the game for more than an hour.
- Penn can only win the Ivy League title by beating Princeton next week if, and only if, Harvard also beats Yale, which would result in a four-way tie — the first of its kind in the conference’s 68-year history. It’s easy to imagine a four-way Ivy League football tie being the subject of derision from outsiders, and it makes one again question why the conference hasn’t adopted a playoff or championship game, or at least started using tie-breakers.
- When this team sat at 6-0 after beating Yale, few would have thought that just three weeks later the team’s only shot at glory would be in a four-way tie. Conversely, as head coach Ray Priore noted postgame, “Coming into this season, no one expected us to be in this position going into the final game.” Both things are true.
BRANDON PRIDE is a Wharton senior studying finance from Morgan Hill, Calif. who was a Senior Sports Editor for the 137th Board of Editors. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.