Penn Defense Holds; Upsets No. 16/25 Harvard, 30-21
Pictured: Nnamdi Obukwelu makes a tackle against Penn QB Billy Ragone Saturday at Franklin Field (Justine Agaloos).
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The University of Pennsylvania got consistent defensive pressure while converting key situations on offense as the Quakers upset the No. 16/25 Harvard Crimson by a score of 30-21 Saturday afternoon at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
The win ensures the Quakers will earn at least a share of the Ivy League title (5-1) going into a difficult road game at Cornell next week. Harvard (7-2, 4-2 Ivy) can still earn a share of the hardware with a win next week against Yale and a Cornell win.
With three starters injured on its offensive line, Penn pressured Harvard QB Colton Chapple much of the game while holding the Crimson to a season-low 295 yards of offense and 21 points. On the other side of the ball, Penn converted 9 of 18 third downs to keep the juggernaut Harvard offense on the sidelines.
Penn marched right down the field in the opening possession with Billy Ragone finding a wide open Conner Scott for a 33 yard touchdown up the seam to complete a 69-yard drive in seven plays at 2:45.
Harvard went three-and-out but Ragone forced a bad throw on first down near midfield on the ensuing Penn possession and Chris Splinter easily stepped in front of a receiver to pick it off and return to the Quakers' 49. Harvard took just six plays to score with Chapple capping things with a four yard keeper.
On its third drive, a missed tackle allowed Penn to move deep into Crimson territory where Penn benefitted from a lucky bounce on a tipped pass, catching a deflected third-down ball to Harvard's one yard line to move the sticks. Two plays later, Ragone used a QB keeper to run it in from two yards out.
In the second quarter, Harvard drove 72 yards thanks to the Chapple to Kyle Juszczyk connection as the duo hooked up twice for a 51 yards with Treavor Scales capping things with a one yard run to tie the game at 14-14.
Before the half, Penn moved the ball 84 yards in 11 plays thanks to a long holding penalty and pass from Ragone to Scott to Harvard's three yard line. On second and goal, Ragone used a misdirection rollout to find an open tight end in Ryan O'Malley for a 21-14 lead at the break.
Penn increased its lead to 28-14 early in the fourth as Mitchell King pulled down a pass in the back of the end zone when it appeared he rolled out of the back before securing the ball against Splinter as the Harvard sideline protested the call. It was no avail but Harvard did benefit on the drive from knocking Ragone out of the game with a bad ankle injury.
The offense responded with some timely conversions to drive 64 yards with Chapple finding Juszczyk on a one yard TD pass on third and goal to make it a 28-21 game with 10:48 left.
After each team punted, Harvard got another chance on its 14 yard line with 5:39 left. On third and one from the 24, Harvard was stopped for a one yard loss and was forced to punt again, giving Penn the ball at its 37 with 4:07 remaining.
The Crimson's defense came up with another stop, forcing Penn to punt, to give Harvard the ball with 1:04 on the clock. Chapple dropped back three times on the final drive, but was sacked on each play. On third and 18, Chapple with sacked in the end zone to push Penn's lead to 30-21.
After a failed onside kick attempt by Harvard, Penn gained possession and kneeled out the clock.
The Quakers outgained Harvard, 353-295, including a 227-121 advantage on the ground. Chapple led the Harvard offense with 174 yards on 17-of-27 passing and a TD, while Scales rushed for 68 yards on 17 carries. Penn's Marsh carried the ball 27 times and gained 130 yards. Ragone added 95 yards rushing for the Quakers and 108 yards through the air.
The Crimson will play its final game of the regular season next Saturday against arch rival Yale. The Game is slated for a noon kickoff at Harvard Stadium live on NBC Sports.
Punter Jacob Dombrowski had a fine afternoon, averaging 46.6 yards per kick and pinning two inside the 20 yard line while Penn's Scott Loprano also played an important role, averaging 43.0 yards per kick and putting six balls inside Harvard's territory.