Turn Back the Clock: Nov. 15, 2003

The Quakers halt a Crimson comeback, 32-24
November 15, 2003

There’s been quite the trend in years past of vying for the Ivy League championship against Harvard. For the second year in a row, Penn clinched the Ivy title outright in a close matchup at Harvard Stadium, one game before finishing the season undefeated in the league.

But the Crimson wouldn’t let a win come too easy for the Quakers, who jumped out to an early lead.

The Red and Blue reached a 22-point advantage, 22-0, before Harvard came charging back.

To commence the game, Penn QB Mike Mitchell found tight end Brian Adams five plays in for an 11-yard touchdown, putting the Quakers up by seven.

This scoring streak continued for Penn. In the following scoring drive, and in the first play for that matter, Mitchell passed the ball 44 yards to wide receiver Dan Castles for the second Quakers touchdown, putting them up 14-0.

And it was still the first quarter.

Another pass from Mitchell to fullback Kevin DeSmedt a couple minutes later for a seven-yard touchdown followed by a two-point conversion put the Quakers at what seemed to be a huge advantage.

The Crimson answered with a 65-yard drive for a touchdown, which the Red and Blue matched in the second half with a 91-yard drive, running into the endzone.

The second half was big for Harvard, who scored on a safety followed by a touchdown on a 5-yard pass. The Quakers answered yet again, countering with a field goal.

In the final minutes, Harvard fumbled the ball but managed to get it back in time to drive down the field for the eight-point touchdown play. Penn began their drive, but ended up needing to punt with less than a minute to play.

Within the final minute, Harvard made it 71 yards down the field. But in the final moments of the game, six yards from potentially putting together a game tying play, Penn linebacker Steve Lhotak tackled Harvard QB Matt Fratto, ending the game and securing the title for the Quakers.

From the other side of the Ivy title

The DP wasn't the only publication today with Penn on the cover page. The Harvard Crimson featured the injured Billy Ragone celebrating after the Quakers won and got at least a share of the title Saturday afternoon. Below is the top portion of the front page of today's Crimson:

Penn football back on the throne

Monday's front page of the DP is an ode to our coverage of Penn's loss to Harvard last season in Boston. The Quakers had one loss on the Ivy season and, like this season, needed to beat Harvard to stay alive in the title race. The Crimson played like champions and clinched a share of the title with their 37-20 victory. As Penn was on a 'Watch the Throne' tour last season after winning the previous two Ivy championships, we headlined the story 'Dethroned.'

Playing off that, here's what we went with this season. It's a fitting comparison.

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.

Liveblog — Penn football vs. Harvard

In the penultimate game of the year, Penn football (4-4, 4-1 Ivy) will host Harvard (7-1, 4-1) in its final home game of the year at Franklin Field. The winner of the game will win at least a share of the Ivy League title. Sports Editor Mike Wisniewski and football writers Ethan Alter and John Phillips bring you the action live:

Reliving Penn-Harvard 1982: Miracle on 33rd Street

We've been saying all week how this weekend's Penn-Harvard match at Franklin Field is the de facto Ivy League title game: Whichever team wins will clinch at least a share of the championship and have a chance to win it outright next week.

Back in 1982, the two teams met at Franklin Field in the same situation with 4-1 records in the league. The Quakers jumped out to a commanding 20-0 lead, but the Crimson stormed back with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull ahead, 21-20.

In the game's final drive, Penn quarterback Gary Vura drove the Red and Blue to the Harvard 21, good enough to set up a 38-yard field goal with three seconds left. Against the win, the kick was no good. But as Crimson players celebrated their supposed victory, a flag was thrown for running into the kicker.

Placekicker Dave Shulman had another chance, and this time he nailed it, handing Penn its first Ivy League championship in 23 years. Highlights of the game can be seen here, with legendary Philadelphia Eagles broadcaster Merrill Reese providing the play-by-play:

This Week on 33rd Street: Nov. 9, Part II

In this week's football segment, I sit down with Associate Sports Ed. Kenny Kasper to talk Penn football. The Quakers upset Princeton on the road, 28-21, a week ago, and have set themselves up for a de facto championship game Saturday against No. 25 Harvard at Franklin Field (see preview). The Crimson rank near the top of the Ancient Eight in almost every category, so what will the Red and Blue need to do to come out on top?

Ivy papers predict this weekend’s games

Each week, sports writers and editors from each Ivy paper are submitting their picks for the weekend's Ivy matchups. This weekend there are just two, but that didn't stop us from nearly unanimously picking a Cornell win over Yale and a Harvard win over Brown.

Friday's paper has the abridged version, but the full reasoning behind the choices are listed after the jump.

Continue reading

Kyle Casey, others to withdraw from Harvard amidst cheating scandal

UPDATE (6:37 p.m.) — The Boston Herald is reporting that Harvard basketball co-captain Brandyn Curry is also expected to withdraw from the university today and miss the upcoming basketball season.

8:39 a.m. — News broke early this morning that Harvard basketball captain Kyle Casey is set to withdraw from Harvard this year. He is implicated in a cheating case with about 130 other students from a Government class last semester. A student told The Crimson more than half of the 279-person class played a varsity sport, though not all of them are necessarily being investigated.

Investigations began by Harvard's Ad Board in late August, when it was determined that students had collaborated on the Government 1310 take-home exam.

While the investigations could take until November, athletes involved have been advised to withdraw from the university for the term or year in order to save eligibility. Multiple sources have told SI.com that Casey is choosing to withdraw, and additionally Brandyn Curry and another unnamed basketball player are involved in the case and under review.

The football team is "preparing for the worst," an unnamed player told The Crimson.

The deadline to withdraw is today, so stay tuned for more updates as we will surely see some recognizable names save themselves a year of eligibility. Those who do not withdraw and are later found to be guilty -- no matter at what point during the season -- will lose a year of eligibility. Wins could be vacated from a team if a player is later deemed ineligible.

Mano-A-Mano: Three-peat on the line

So the Watch the Throne squad wasn't fazed by the end of their streak. Nothing like the Princeton JV varsity football team when you need a bounce-back, confidence-boosting win. But that blowout only set the stage for this Saturday's much-awaited showdown in Cambridge. For the third straight year, Penn and Harvard will meet for all (or most) of the marbles. Quakers' fans could easily find our analysis in the newspaper -- everybody reads "The Edge" and Swamis, right? -- but since we're new-age journalists, let's bring this segment online.

Question: Who will win Saturday's Penn-Harvard football game and why?

Kevin Esteves: Speaking objectively, I think this one goes to Harvard. The Crimson have been doing this year what Penn did in its previous two championship seasons: dominating on both sides of the ball. Harvard averages 11.1 more points per game than anybody else in the league (11.1 points!) and has the Ancient Eight's No. 1 run defense (3rd best defense overall in the league). Sure, Penn does pretty well in those categories as well, but Harvard's main weakness is its pass defense, which is not something the Quakers can just easily exploit (Penn's pass offense ranks just 5th). Princeton, which owns the Ivies' 2nd best run 'D' held Penn to just 76 yards last week. The Crimson rush defense is even stingier than the Tigers, so I expect more of the same. That means the Quakers may have to again rely on a strong passing game, but this time against a strong opponent — this just isn't the greatest matchup for Penn, or anyone in the league for that matter.

Brian Kotloff: No debate here. I'll take it a step further and say Harvard could be this Penn team's worst nightmare. Where the Quakers have a weakness, the Crimson have a strength. The main difference lies in the passing matchups. From what I've seen, Penn has struggled this season when forced into sure passing situations (save for Homecoming against the lowly Tigers), when the threat of the ground-and-pound game or creatively designed Billy Ragone runs is gone. Ragone may face many of those situations this week because of the strength of Harvard's run defense. On the other side of the ball, the Quakers' secondary faces the Ivies' hottest quarterback in Collier Winters. QBs have had their way with the Quakers this season, especially when opponents can establish a running threat first. In my mind, Harvard's offense is too balanced and too prolific to be stopped right now.

We can't sign off for the week without going out on a limb, so let's give our sure-to-be-wrong score predictions. I'll say Harvard 27, Penn 21.

KE: Crimson 35, Quakes 27.