Game Six: Yale — The good, bad and the ugly

GoodBadUglyThe streak continues as Penn football picked up its 18th consecutive Ivy win, defeating Yale today, 37-25 at Franklin Field. It was another 4th quarter come-from-behind victory, but it wasn't quite the nail-biter we've gotten used to seeing.

The Good: This was the first time I've seen Penn's offense look this versatile. We know what we're going to get every time Brandon Colavita steps on the turf. Wideouts Ryan Mitchell and Ryan Calvert have been quarterback Billy Ragone's go-to guys so far this season, and today Ragone mixed it up. He found a lot of success with tight end Luke Nawrocki over the middle and found Joe Holder once in the end zone as well. And with that combination of run and pass, it just opens up Ragone's scramble game, as we saw on his 11-yard touchdown.

The Bad: Ivy League penalties. I'm obviously all for penalties that are going to keep players safe, but the ridiculous 15-yard personal fouls the refs called on players for taunting, celebrating, etc. are just absurd. This is football. The whole Ivy-League-better-behaved-than-thou mindset is just silly and even the Versus commentators said they had never seen some of these penalties called before.

The Ugly: Yale special teams. Yowza. Allowing an onside pooch kick and then fumbling their next attempt at a kickoff return. And a missed PAT. Just remember that if the onside kick had not worked in Penn's favor, we would all be crying about how Al Bagnoli should never have attempted a trick like that. But props to the coach for having the chutzpah to go for it.

Game 5 – Columbia: The good, the bad and the Ugly

GoodBadUglyAnother Ivy win and another white-knuckle fourth quarter. The Quakers left New York with a 27-20 victory, courtesy of some heroics yet again from quarterback Billy Ragone.

The Good: Two more crucial and successful two minute drills for Penn. The Quakers marched down the field and tied the game at 10 to end the first half, only to do it again in the fourth quarter to get the decisive touchdown. Billy Ragone did not look like the kind of quarterback who could engineer that kind of win early on — coach Al Bagnoli even put backup QB Ryan Becker in for a few series at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second. But Ragone showed the same gusto with which he beat Dartmouth two weeks ago.

Video of the game winning TD, courtesy of Penn Athletics:

The also Good: The crowd that came out to Smokes to watch the game with the Red and Blue Crew and the DP. Thanks to Penn Athletics for providing some solid giveaways.

The Bad: Somebody has to plug the holes in Penn's secondary because Ragone will not be able to keep bailing the team out, especially against Yale next week and Harvard next month. This was a winless Columbia team, after all. The play that stood out was in the fourth quarter, a fourth-and-10 on the Penn 35 when, after both teams took timeouts, Sean Brackett completed to Kurt Williams for 24 yards to put the Lions on Penn's doorstep. Only thanks to some horrendous penalties on Columbia's part did the Lions only score a field goal.

The Ugly: Columbia's squib kick to set up Penn's final drive. If you're gonna squib it, you can't set the other team up on the 40 in a tie game. Pointless.

Game 3 — Dartmouth: The good, bad and ugly

What a game in Hanover tonight, as Penn hustled 90 yards in the final five minutes to take a 22-20 victory out of Dartmouth's hands. And Dartmouth is footing the bill for the Quakers' victory flight back tonight after playing the first game under the lights at Memorial Field.

The Good: Billy Ragone and the the whole offensive unit was unbreakable under pressure this week. As mentioned, Ragone deftly led the Quakers 90 yards on their final possesion to the winning touchdown. Not only that — he threw two TD passes, as the first one to Ryan Mitchell was called back on a questionable holding call. Then receiver Joe Holder came up with a clutch 18-yard catch putting Penn at the 3-yard line with 22 seconds remaining, and Ryan Calvert caught the winning TD.

Ragone led a similar drive at the end of the first half. With the clock ticking down, Penn somehow got the special teams unit on the field and hiked the ball (all within 10 seconds), and Connor Loftus got off a 35-yard field goal. Which leads me to...

The Bad: Penn's place kicking was not in championship mode tonight. Perhaps some of it can be chalked up to the lousy conditions in New Hampshire tonight, but Loftus missed two FGs (one is listed as blocked on the stat-sheet), and his final PAT was blocked as well. Some of the blame rests on the shoulders of the linemen blocking for Loftus, but he needs to get a little more loft in his kicks.

The Ugly: The commercials on Fox College Sports tonight. From the repetitive Bosley hair restoration spots to the Miracle Slipper (you can drop an egg on it!), this was bad marketing at its worst. The sideline interview with Dartmouth's medical school dean was equally entertaining. Fortunately, the bad ads were counterbalanced by a sweet Ivy League football ad narrated by Brown alum Chris Berman, and an awesome Penn ad voiced by John Legend.

Game 1: Lafayette – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The two-time defending champion Quakers laid an egg in their first 2011-12 game, losing to Lafayette, 37-12. Here is the first of our weekly post-game breakdowns of all things good, bad and ugly.

The Good: The aerial attack didn't exactly take flight (we'll get to that in a minute), but Penn's ground game looked as strong as ever against a physical defense. The Quakers finished with 185 rushing yards on the night on the strength of a balanced attack -- bruiser Brandon Colavita rumbled his way to 67 yards, quarterback Billy Ragone scampered for another 52, and fullback Greg Schuster added a surprising 30. I also can't forget to mention Justyn Williams' ridiculous blocked extra point return, which he took 92 yards to the house for a two-point conversion after juking a Lafayette defender 40 yards from paydirt. Maybe the most exciting Penn football play I've seen in my three-plus years here.

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Game 27: Princeton — the good, bad and ugly

We'll do a season wrap up good/bad/ugly at some point in the coming days, but for now, here's your penn-ultimate edition of the year from the second installment of The Rivalry for 2010-11.

The Good: As usual Penn got down early — 15-4 in the first 10 minutes — but an early turnaround was something we hadn't seen much of from Penn. Great driving by freshman Miles Cartwright fueled the scoring spree, which was capped off by a feed from Mizzo to streaking Jack Eggleston who laid in a two-handed jam. When it was over, Penn led 23-19 at the break, a 19-4 run.

Speaking of great penetration by Cartwright, who could forget THIS?!

The Bad: All around second-half defense. Whether it was Kareem Maddox having his way in the paint with 21 second-half points, or Douglas Davis and Dan Mavraides knocking them down from the perimeter (5-for-10 combined), Princeton couldn't be stopped. After a Sydney Jonson timeout refocused the Tigers, they went on to score in 17 of their next 22 possessions.

The Ugly: Penn players and fans sitting and watching Wednesday as Princeton and Harvard make preparations for Saturday's Ivy League playoff to determine who's name will appear on brackets Sunday. The Crimson reports that Harvard is sending three buses (T-shirts, drinks and Pizza included!) to the game at Yale. Both schools sold out of general admissions tickets within about four hours of releasing tickets, according to Princeton Basketball.

Game 25 — Cornell: The good, bad and ugly

This was a tough one for the team to swallow. They definitely didn't want to lose the series to Cornell this year, and I know they wanted to give a great crowd the win. Nonetheless, here's my take:

article2The good: Miles Cartwright turning on beast-mode in the second half. Lots of players contributed to erasing a 15-point deficit (gee, that sounds familiar), but none took control more than the freshman. From re-finding his shot, to driving the lane, he was excellent, scoring a game-high 23 points  with four assists and three steals in 38 minutes. Mizzo put on a clinic in body control, power and finesse going to the rim. That kind of play will make for, at the very least, an entertaining three years to come.

The bad: Jerome Allen's timeout call with 36 seconds remaining. Cartwright had just given Penn a one point lead and the Quakers weren't giving Cornell any chances on offense. The shot clock ticked down to just 1 second before the ball went out of bounds off Penn. Allen's 30 second timeout might have given him a chance to set up some defense, but it also gave Cornell's coaching staff enough time to regroup before one successful inbounds play, a baseline pass to Mark Coury who hit the jumper to give Cornell the lead, which the Big Red would hold onto for the win.

The Ugly: The fact that Penn's seniors will have to return for their final home game — senior night — looking for a last win at the Palestra over spring break, when the student body will not be here to see it.

Game 23 – at Yale: The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Quakers finished off season sweeps of Brown and Yale, and swept an Ivy road weekend for just the second time since 2007. Penn is now back above .500 in the Ivy League at 5-4 and has already equaled last season's Ivy win total. That's the good from the whole weekend, but here's your breakdown of the 60-58 victory over Yale last night.

The Good: While Zack Rosen's game-winner with 2.3 seconds left was the play of the game, Mike Howlett's performance was the most encouraging takeaway. Howlett took advantage of his first start of the season after a very good effort off the bench Friday night against Brown. He wasn't as active on the boards as you might expect, but his three blocks — especially the one that set up Rosen's moment — were huge for the Quakers. And that's not counting various other shots he altered with his presence down low, not to mention his 11 points. Needless to say, his resurgence was timed perfectly with the absence of Conor Turley and Cam Gunter due to illness.

The Bad: Penn could have won this game much more easily than it did, but went 0-for-6 from three in the second half and shot just 2-11 from long range in the game. The Quakers led by as many as 17 in the first half and held an eight-point edge at halftime, but just like the night before against Brown, they let Yale back in the game with a 14-4 run to start the second half, which included two of those Penn misses from three. For a team that has relied pretty heavily on the three this season, you can't expect to win many games on the road with that kind of a shooting night.

The Ugly: With 1:25 to go in a tie game, Rosen nearly cost Penn the 'W' with an untimely and uncharacteristic turnover. Jack Eggleston was cutting from the block to the corner and Rosen threw a pass way behind him that sailed, as Rosen joked after, "into the Yale band." But, Mike Howlett came up huge defensively and Rosen redeemed himself on their last possession.

Game 22 — at Brown: The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Penn completed the series sweep of Brown last night at the Pizzitola Center in Providence, R.I. As most victories are wont to be, this game had plenty of good for the Quakers and not all that much bad. Nevertheless, your good, bad and ugly:

The Good: It would be easy to pick Tyler Bernardini’s 26-point night on red-hot shooting (6-of-8 from three), but I was even more impressed by the Quakers’ defense down the stretch. This game almost became another heartbreaker, as Penn’s double-digit lead dwindled in the second half and Brown’s three-point shooting eventually brought it back in front, 49-48, with about six minutes remaining. From that point on it may have just been Brown cooling off, but the Quakes noticeably kicked it up a gear defensively, closing out quicker on three-pointers and actively pressuring the ball to force some key turnovers. Honorable Mentions: Besides Bernardini’s night, there was Mike Howlett’s 10-7 night, Zack Rosen’s 8-8 free throw shooting (mostly in the final minutes), and more simply, just getting an Ivy road win and snapping an eight-game Ivy road losing streak.

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Game 18- Harvard: The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Last night's game against Harvard was absolutely an instant classic. It's pretty difficult to summarize all the ups and downs, but here goes:

The Good: I could go with anything from Zack Rosen's clutch play down the stretch to the incredibly electric atmosphere in the Palestra, but I've got to make this one about the whole Penn team's true grit in the comeback and overtimes. They were down 18 with 15:43 left, but they weren't out. They did what they needed to do, clamping down on 'D' and repeatedly hitting huge shots - from three-pointers near the end of regulation to Rosen's first-OT buzzer-beater. The Quakers' amazing effort made this game one of the most exciting sporting events I've ever attended and easily made it the signature game of the season so far, despite the loss. Jerome Allen has said time and again that he doesn't believe in moral victories, but last night even he couldn't deny that his players "showed great character."

The Bad: To be frank, the only real bad I can see in this game was the fact that Penn lost. Sure I could point to their 41.7% shooting (or the 34.8% from three), but it's hard to harp on that when they still managed to push the game to double-overtime. After all the heart and energy the Quakers poured on the Palestra hardwood, the disappointing loss was incredibly hard to swallow for players and fans alike. As Rosen said, "A loss is a loss. What we wanted out of the game was a win, and what we got out of the game was a loss. So I think on the whole, we did not get what we wanted."

The Ugly: This one is probably the easiest to call, because the officiating was consistently questionable. First there was the one-and-one for Christian Webster that became two shots for Brandyn Curry. Then there was the near foul call against Penn on Curry's last-second tip-in attempt in regulation, which would have given him two shots to win the game. And finally there was the jump ball call late in the second overtime that cost Penn a crucial possession. Nobody would blame the game on the refs, of course, and the bad calls seemed to go both ways (just as Penn fans protested the possibility of game-ending free throws in regulation, Crimson fans could question whether Rosen's buzzer beater in the first overtime was released in time). So maybe it didn't impact the final result, but the officiating certainly was the ugliest part of this Ivy League classic.

Game 17: Dartmouth – The good, bad and ugly

Penn's 78-47 win Friday night over Dartmouth was its widest margin of victory since Jan. 14, 2006, when the Quakers beat Columbia 87-55. Moving on:

The good: 21 points for Tyler Bernardini in 25 minutes. This doesn't sound that good at first — after all, we've come to expect that output from the swingman lately. But his 7-for-10 shooting (4-for-4 from behind the arc) came on a night when Bernardini said he was battling flu-like symptoms. He had been ill most of the week and did not practice yesterday. (Sidenote, his mom is in town, and made him soup). "I was able to light it up, I was ready to roll tonight," he said after the game.

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