Game Nine: Harvard — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The Penn football team entered its Ivy tilt against Harvard and final home game of the season as a significant underdog against the No. 25 team in the FCS. But the Quakers proved their resolve and determination could not be matched as they marched to a 30-21 victory over the Crimson to clinch at least a share of their third Ancient Eight title in four years and 16th championship overall (see recap). Here's a rundown of the good, bad and ugly points in case you missed them:

THE GOOD: What else? An Ivy League title. There was no doubt coming into the season that Harvard was the favorite to defend its Ivy crown. And despite a loss to Princeton on Oct. 20, the Crimson appeared prime to do so, especially against Penn, which had squeaked out wins against lowly Columbia and Brown and even lost to Ancient Eight basement-dweller Yale (which, it should be noted, still has just one Ivy win this year — against Penn). But it wasn't meant to be, as the Quakers carried all of the momentum they had accumulated a week ago in Princeton into Saturday and never took their foot off the gas. Perhaps the ghosts of 1982 had something to do with it, too.

ALSO GOOD: Penn's ground game. On a single run in the first quarter, Lyle Marsh surpassed the yardage total the Crimson had allowed on average all season when he sprinted 47 yards from the Penn 23 to the Harvard 30. The Crimson entered with the best run defense in the FCS, allowing less than 44 yards per game, but they couldn't stop the Quakers, who totaled 227 yards on the day. Lyle Marsh became the first Harvard foe to eclipse the century mark, running for 130 yards on 27 carries. Billy Ragone also had a day with 95 yards on 16 rushes. More on him...

THE BAD: Ragone is done. On the final play of the third quarter, Ragone scrambled for seven yards and a first before he was met by the 6-foot-3, 270-pound frame of Harvard defensive lineman Nnamdi Obukwelu. His ankle twisted in a way it definitely isn't supposed to, and the senior quarterback had to be carted off the field. Andrew Holland replaced him for all of the fourth quarter and will be the starter in next week's season finale at Cornell.

THE UGLY: Ragone's twisted ankle. Watching what happened to Ragone is not for the faint of heart. It wasn't quite USC's Marcus Lattimore from two weeks ago, but it's disgusting enough that we'll give fair warning before divulging that you can see it here.

24 thoughts on “Game Nine: Harvard — The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

  1. @ DP editor of The Good, The Bad and & The Ugly:
    For the most part your comments all year were on the mark but PEASEEEEEEEEEEEE get the score correct in Penn's most important victory of the season.
    PENN 30 ------ HARVARD 21
    Perhaps you were still celebrating when you posted this article.

  2. @ DP Staff:
    One other favor:
    We have only one more week left in the 2012 FB season.
    We have almost four months of the BB season ahead.
    I love Penn BB BUT can we concentrate on Penn FB until Saturday. I know the BB season has started and we are in the NIT Pre season Tournament in Virginia. We play Delaware on Monday and Drexel at the Palestra on Sat. at 4pm BUT this week belongs to FB and Penn is getting ready to play Cornell in Ithaca in the 119th renewal of this ancient and most celebrated rivalry. The Big Red have had a disappointing season (4-5 overall; 2-4 League) but next Saturday is Senior Day for Cornell and they would love to stop the Quakers from claiming their 13th OUTRIGHT Ivy Title and ending their season at the .500 mark. IT WOULD MAKE THEIR DAY !
    Even though we are the 2012 Ivy FB Champions we can not take this game lightly. There is much at stake !
    Remember 1982 !!!!! Win this for Billy !!!!!

  3. BTW:
    Cornell did UPSET Princeton at Ithaca earlier this season. PENN MUST BE READY FOR EVERYTHING !!!!
    GO PENN !!!!! BEAT CORNELL !!!!!

  4. @ Mike
    Thanks for reading my posts and correcting the FB score.
    Brandon Copeland's sacking of Colton Chapell for a safety was the culmination of Penn's dominance over Harvard.

  5. Dear PENN GRAD,

    Saturday was an historic victory and the team showed a lot of guts and preparation. Bravo! But that preparation must spill over into this week - if anything more than last week.

    Your warning about Cornell is quite appropriate. In 1982 I made the trek up to Ithaca only to witness a flat performance against a tough and talented Cornell team that was very ready for us. It was a much longer trip home if I recall.

    And while I share your sentiment that this week should be about the football, the DP cannot realistically ignore all other sports. Perhaps the coverage should be 75% football, 25% everything else?


    Win this for Billy!!!!!

  6. I still can't get over what happened on Saturday but I do have to caution with the "win this for Billy stuff." I think they spent a lot of the 4th quarter in the "win this for Billy" mode and that is not so emotionally easy to repeat a week later. This game is very scary and I only wish it was on tv. We still owe them some payback for last year too. Should be interesting.

  7. As I missed the game, here's an eval from a trusted source with multiple insights to enjoy and reflect on:

    "I watched the tape of the Harvard game and was amazed by what I saw.

    The tape reinforced my sense that Harvard does not play well on Franklin Field. The announcers reported that Penn has won thirteen of the last fifteen games in Philadelphia. That statistic belies that fact that Murphy was out coached and his players were badly outplayed. Maybe they heard the comments throughout the league that Penn was not very good.

    Penn's defensive game plan was flawless: prevent big plays, cover the receivers with underneath and deep coverage's, pressure the QB and stop the run. Priori was at his best with timely calls and the young Penn defense was relentless and very physical. Harvard was surprised by Penn's team speed. I was too!

    Ragone was at his best and a featured part of the offense. Bagnoli has saved him all year for the big games. His strategy worked at Princeton and against Harvard. Harvard's defense was uninspiring, which goes to the notion that the Penn game is important, but "The Game" is a week away.

    Holland's fumble near the end of the game, with several Harvard players allowing the ball to be free while they celebrated, sums up Harvard's effort. It was poor, at best.

    I continue to admire Bagnoli's planning and preparation. Penn's talent is nowhere near what Harvard's is, but he wins. It is remarkable to me how he finds a way.

    You and I have discussed the strength of the younger kids in the Penn program. They are beginning to contribute in big ways. As long as Bagnoli is head coach, Penn will be very competitive, particularly in November. Penn seems to always have kids who out work the competition and have a stronger will to win.

    Ragone's injury was gruesome and may be career ending. I would be surprised if he comes back. If Colavita, Marsh, and Ragonne do come back, Penn will remain with Harvard as the favored team to win next year's championship. Princeton is coming, Dartmouth and Columbia are improving, Cornell is enigmatic and Brown is Brown. Yale has a lot of work to do.

    The television coverage was first class. The game is worth watching, yet less than 9,000 chose to go to Franklin Field. I wonder how the TV ratings are? At the end of the day, who cares?"

    Note the last paragraph, discussion which for another time to combine with Palestra attendance. There's need to introduce math into that discussion.

  8. I just read the Ivy League website's Player's of the Week Selections in their Football Weekly Release. Brown's QB Patrick Donnelly won the Offensive Player of the week for his leading Brown in a 4th quarter comeback against Dartmouth, in a relatively MEANINGLESS game. How many times this year has Billy Ragone lead Penn to victory in the 4th quarter. LYLE MARSH (130 yard rushing) helping to propel Penn over the highly favored Harvard for at least a share of the Ivy Championship was totally ignored. He did not even get mentioned in the Honor Roll. BILLY RAGONE's stellar performance for three quarters was also noteworthy of recognition, but ignored as well.
    BRANDON COPELAND shared Defensive Player of the week with Columbia's Josh Martin and SCOTT LOPANO's punting earned him Special Player of the Week.
    It has always been clear to this Penn alum that the Ivy League front office has had a dislike for the Quakers FB program. This recent ignoring of LYLE MARSH AND BILLY RAGONE is the icing on the cake . I say foul and shame on them. WHAT AN INJUSTICE !!!!!

  9. Ernie,
    What were you doing up at 3:24 AM the other night? (Not that it's any of my business), but I suspect you were watching the replay of the game...And what a game it was! I'm still scratching my head, but we'll take it. Great analysis from your "source."
    Hope the team still has something left in the tank for Cornell on Saturday, because they were "all out" against Harvard.

  10. Ted - I returned from an out-of-town wedding, and never got to watching the game. My trusted source per above filled me in, but it contains an element that continues to vex: "At the end of the day who cares?" - This is a lament from a lifelong fan! My own concern is it will soon evolve into "So what?"

  11. FWIW Ernie, you can tell your friend that Ragone is a senior, so unfortunately he won't be coming back regardless, severity of injury aside.

    As for the photo I posted to Twitter, at first when I saw the play and the aftermath live, I thought Ragone's shoe had fallen off or was loose, and thus the unnatural angle. But when I rewound and paused the video, I saw just how gruesome the injury was. Thought it was worth taking so people who didn't watch/don't have DVR could see it.

  12. ZK - If I'm not mistaken, I read in the DP that Bagnoli had mentioned that Ragone could be back. I believe he went down after a brief appearance in the TV Dartmouth game in his freshman year that you saw. I recall offering that TV coverage bias favored Dartmouth, but you saw none - the first of our multiple, shall we say different perspectives, on issues.

    I am confused as to which Penn senior FB players still has a year of eligibility left. Because of injuries during their careers, Billy Ragone, Lyle Marsh and Brandon Colovita just to mention a few, might still have eligibiility remaining, should they choose to take it.
    Can anyone of you out there please help me with my confusion. Thanks.

  14. @Penn Grad - Please also add Jeff Jack's name. I think I heard during a TV game that he too may have a year left.

    BTW - By way of old business, that Dartmouth game I referred to with ZK also saw a good deal of play by Marsh, who had somewhat of a monster day, in addition to Ragone. It goes to show Coach B does play freshman; I'm just saying.

  15. FYI-
    If you are unable to travel to Ithaca to view the Penn-Cornell game in person you might want to check out the Cornell Athletics website Go to Football video box and follow instructions to watch the game live. ( Similar to the Penn Sports Network PSN ) There is a ONE DAY PACKAGE VIEWING CHARGE FOR $7.50. SIGN UP THE DAY OF THE GAME. NOT BEFORE.
    Kickoff is at 12:30 Saturday, November 17, 2012.

  16. "If Andrew Lisa was worth recruiting, he would've played in the Ivy League title game when Ragone got injured. I mean if he had any talent it would have been easy to beat out Holland who only completed one pass in the 4th quarter. So what if it was for the game winning touchdown on a perfectly placed ball." -Nobody

    Why do you keep rehashing your stupid point about Andrew Lisa?

  17. @Old Business - Where the blankety blank did you come up with that quote? I certainly didn't make it!

    To be clear: My purpose in pointing to the play of Marsh, Ragone, and Copeland in that Dartmouth game is to point out that Coach Bagnoli is not reluctant to play talented frosh when he has them, and those were recent examples. Full stop!

    We've seen talented frosh start on other Ivies including at QB, and I'd be interested to know if there are frosh who have broken into our starting lineup this year? It is of particular interest as Coach B has consistently referred in superlative terms to outstanding recruiting classes. I'd simply like to see examples of it. This is not to detract from his having beat Harvard and won at least a share of the title.

    One last time, it wasn't me who first mentioned Andrew Lisa by name, and I'm hoping he's as good as advertised. His name was mentioned by another poster. I was referring to last year's DP reporting our landing of a talented QB who had selected Penn over Princeton as an example of over-hype. I'd have thought given the the DP's own recent QB exchange as to who should start, Lisa,'s name should at least have come up as another alternative - especially given last year's hype. If you have issues and can't accept that logic, I'll just have to live with your opprobrium.

  18. I just noticed in the Ivy League's Players of the Week Selections on the Ivy League website that Billy Ragone's name was recently inserted in the Honor Roll. IT WAS NOT ON THE ORIGINAL RELEASE. Maybe someone in the Princeton office read my above comment. Lyle Marsh, however. was still omitted from recognition for his stirling performance in Saturday's victory over Harvard. Penn's win over the Crimson was one of the two most important games played in the Ivy League this year. (The other was Princeton's comeback victory over Harvard, 39-34) I still think Lyle Marsh had a most important role in the Quakers great victory and to not be recognized is truly an injustice by the Ivy League.

  19. Wonderful dialogue and discussion points.

    Its refreshing to see such a wide array of opinions representing many different "eras"

    Wonderful spirit and camraderie and fellowship

    Would be nice if Jonothon Tannenwald came down from standing on ceremony and participated. He has good perspective and has some good experiences. But he refuses to participate here and that is quite unfortunate.


  20. @EN
    I understand your point Ernie and I agree with your assessment.
    Who the heck is Jonothon Tannenwald? I really don't care about Jonothon Tannenwald. Why don't we stick to discussing Penn FB and forget our personal agendas. All year you waged a one man war against the Penn Athletic Director. I was quite noticeable to this Penn alum. I didn't come on this website to engage in such a vendetta.. I CAME ON HERE TO SHARE OUR THOUGHTS ON PENN FOOTBALL. Spare us your patronizing and talk about Penn beating Cornell. That is more relevant then the other nonense you waste our time with.

  21. Ernie,

    I was under the impression that since Ragone has consistently been labeled a senior, he wasn't coming back. Obviously the Ivy League has unique redshirt rules, so I guess it's still possible he adds a second major etc... so he can stay. But as far as I know that hasn't happened yet. Guess it's still not too late, though I don't know if this ankle injury is going to help things. As Penn Grad asked, it'd be great if Bagnoli could comment on who is or isn't returning next year (though he might want to wait til after the Cornell game).

    I watched that Dartmouth game you mentioned in a bar and without sound. So I can't comment on whether or not it was biased, outside of I guess showing shots of Dartmouth's campus and interviewing their President while not showcasing Penn? It's not like Amy Gutmann was going to make the trip to Hanover to be on television.


  22. @ZK - As you wish, but recall in our exchange at that time I referred to 3 Dartmouth interviews - President Kim, Coach Teevens, and the general one showcasing students and campus. In most broadcasts they have 1 from each school.

    You might also be interested to know we received a communication from the "highest levels" of WH pointing out the perceived bias was a function of the home team "controlling" the broadcast. It went further and pointed out that at the next TV home game we'd be able to see a restored balance vis President AG et al - not sure that it worked out quite that way.

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