At 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Jan. 21, many in Philadelphia were rejoicing after the Eagles dominated the New York Giants 38-7. However, halfway across the world, in Tokyo, another game was just getting started: the Ivy League Dream Bowl.
With five former Penn players on the roster, the Ivy League was able to defeat All-Stars from the X-League, Japan’s National Football Association, 24-20.
While this was the first Dream Bowl in over two decades, the idea behind the contest is not unprecedented. A similar event called the Ivy Epson Bowl was held from 1989 to 1996 and also featured Ivy League All-Stars facing off against a Japanese All-Star team.
Former Penn running back Isaiah Malcome led the Ivy League team and was named MVP of the game after rushing for 45 yards and a touchdown while adding another 40 yards through the air. In his four seasons at Penn, Malcome rushed for 900 yards and six touchdowns in 31 games. In 2021, his last season as a Quaker, he was named second team All-Ivy.
Malcome wasn’t the only former Quaker with a starring role. The strong chemistry between former Penn teammates quarterback Ryan Glover and wide receiver Ryan Cragun was evident as they linked up 10 times for 175 yards. Cragun, whose 1,385 career receiving yards ranks 10th all time at Penn, played alongside both Glover and Malcome during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Glover, who started at quarterback for the Ivy League, finished the day 18-28 for 274 yards and an interception. He also added 32 yards on the ground including an 18-yard go-ahead touchdown run that gave the Ivy League a 24-20 lead with just over four minutes left to play.
Since leaving Penn in 2020, Glover has traveled around the country, playing for Western Carolina, University of California, Berkeley, and most recently Memphis.
The other two former Quakers who joined the three were defensive back Jason McCleod and tight end Shane Sweitzer. McCleod helped the Ivy League’s defense hold Japan’s quarterbacks to a sub 50% completion rate and Sweitzer had one reception for two yards.
In two seasons of action at Penn, McCleod had three interceptions, 90 tackles, and was named second team All-Ivy in 2021. Sweitzer entered Penn the same year as McCleod and was the only Quaker to play with Penn in 2022. In four years of game action, he had 11 catches for 119 yards.
The roster of 52 former and current Ivy League players was coached by former Penn and current Columbia coach Al Bagnoli. The Ivy League Dream Bowl was the finale of a week-long trip for the players, which also included visiting the U.S. Embassy, touring local high schools, and sightseeing.