PHILADELPHIA, PA. 9/29/2017 – It was Friday Night Lights at Franklin Field as the University of Pennsylvania Quakers opened their Ivy League schedule against the Big Green of Dartmouth. Both teams were unbeaten. The game lived up to the expected excitement.
It came down to the last play. After Penn took a 13 – 10 lead with 5:37 to play, Dartmouth mounted the deciding drive. The Quaker defense gave up yards, but was holding on at the end. With half a minute left Dartmouth got the ball two-yards away from the goal line. Four plays later and 3 seconds remaining Jared Gerbino took the snap and pushed the ball across the line as time expired giving the Big Green a 16 – 13 victory at Franklin Field.
Although Dartmouth was in field goal range, the team convinced Coach Buddy Teevens to go for it all.
“It was fun to see their eyes light up, and it was a no-brainer to go from there,” said Teevens about the decision to go for the touchdown during the final timeout.
The Quaker defense gave up yards, but did not allow the opponent to break loose keeping them in the game. The Big Green had 414 of total offense. 26 first downs to 17, and had the ball nearly 10 minutes longer. But defense did not break until there until there was no more time on the clock.
“If they want to go seventy-five yards, they have to come through us,” said Penn defensive lineman Louis Vecchio. “If they make plays and march down the field, so be it. If they don’t get into the endzone, that is our goal.”
Trailing most of the game Penn got an opportunity. A fumbled snap caused a scramble. Although Dartmouth recovered, they were flagged with two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties forcing a 2nd and 36 from their own 12 yard line, and later punted. The Red and Blue had an opportunity 61 yards away with 12:20 left in the fourth quarter.
Penn drove the ball deep into Dartmouth territory. A 13-play 51-yard drive was capped when kicker Jack Soslow converted a 27-yard field goal to give the Quakers their first lead at 13 – 10 with 5:37 to play. It was the drive they were looking for.
“We like being in that situation.” said Penn wide receiver Justin Watson. “We did a good job driving the ball down there. We got the a field goal.”
Time to turn it over to the defense, and it came so close to working.
Good things happen for the Penn offense when the ball goes to Watson. The offense looked stymied by the defense of the Big Green. Taking over after a Dartmouth score, Watson took the ball on a reverse gaining 21 yards setting Penn up at the opponent 43 yard line. Later Watson would draw a pass interference penalty getting inside the 30. At the 1:20 mark of the second quarter Watson snared a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Will Fischer-Colbrie capping an 8-play, 64-yard drive to even the score.
Watson caught two passes, ran the ball and was targeted four times on the final Penn drive. For the game he had 6 receptions for 55 yards and ran for 26.
The Quakers are 2 – 1 on the season, 0 – 1 in the Ivy League. Next up will be a trip to Central Connecticut State, the final non-conference game. The season is far from over.
“You bounce back,” Penn Coach Ray Priore said. “There is a lot of football to be played.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian