After being limited to 90 passing yards in the first half, sophomore Alex Park more than doubled that total in the second half to finish the day with a career-high 279 yards while completing 20-of-29 tosses on the afternoon. Two of those second-half completions went for touchdowns, and the Big Green’s other score came on a 33-yard sweep around the right side by junior Dominick Pierre, who became the 25th Dartmouth player to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a career with his first carry of the day.
But the offensive outburst over the final 30 minutes was not enough to overcome the performance of Penn quarterback Billy Ragone. The senior southpaw completed 14-of-18 passes for 165 yards, plus ran for another 60 yards on 14 carries. His favorite target was Conner Scott — the younger brother of former Dartmouth receiver Tanner Scott — who snared eight passes for 89 yards.
The Big Green nearly matched their offensive output from the first half (86 yards) on their first drive of the third quarter, marching 85 yards on 10 plays in just under five minutes. But the drive nearly stalled out at the Quaker 31 with Dartmouth facing 4th-and-3. Park was flushed from the pocket and rolled out to his left, buying time to find a streaking Michael Reilly down the sideline for a 31-yard touchdown toss. Sophomore Riley Lyons added the extra point, bringing the Green within 13 at 20-7.
The next seven combined possessions produced a total of just two first downs as the defenses ruled the field. Dartmouth finally broke through again in the middle of the fourth quarter when Park connected on three straight throws for a combined 40 yards, then Pierre covered the final 40 on two rushes, the second being his 33-yard jaunt to the end zone to make it a 20-14 game with 8:59 to play.
The Quaker offense was working on killing the clock when Lyle Marsh broke free from a pile and bolted 51 yards for a touchdown. Penn opted to attempt a two-point conversion, which Ragone pulled off with a pass to a diving Joe Holder after a lengthy scramble in the backfield for a 14-point lead, 28-14.
Again Dartmouth quickly cut through the Penn defense as Park completed six of his eight passes on the drive. The last pass was a 15-yarder to sophomore Ryan McManus, who dove into the end zone for his first career touchdown to bring the Green back within a touchdown.
With Penn prepared for an onside kick with 3:33 still showing on the clock, Dartmouth’s Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens opted to kick the ball deep, which produced a touchback. Penn thwarted the strategy, however, by gaining a pair of first downs — negating the three Big Green timeouts — before kneeling for three straight plays as the clock ran down to end the game.
The Quakers opened the contest by marching 84 yards on 13 plays to take a 7-0 lead. After misfiring on a short pass, Ragone ran for 19 yards, then completed each of his next three throws, the last a 24-yarder to Ryan Mitchell down to the Big Green two. Two plays later, Jeff Jack barreled in from a yard out for the score.
Dartmouth yielded two sacks on its first three plays from scrimmage, and after punting away, the Quakers came right back down the field. Ragone guided his Quakers into the red zone and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Scott that was called back due to a holding penalty. Penn was forced to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Connor Loftus on the first play of the second quarter for a 10-0 advantage.
Penn added another field goal by Loftus, this one from 25 yards, before the Big Green got into field goal range thanks to a 45-yard bomb to Reilly. Dartmouth lined up for the 30-yard try, but it was pulled wide left.
Ragone went back to work after the missed field goal, throwing for 72 yards on the next drive before Greg Schuster burrowed into the end zone from a yard out for a commanding 20-0 lead.
A personal foul call on the kickoff return and three quick completions to Pierre, freshman Victor Williams and Reilly put Dartmouth in position for a 41-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the half. Twice Penn called timeout to ice the kicker. As it turned out, the timeouts may have disrupted the Big Green as the snap came early to the holder who was not looking, keeping Dartmouth off the scoreboard in the first half.
Reilly finished the game with a season-high seven catches for 115 yards, the first 100-yard receiving game for a Big Green player since Reilly racked up 124 yards against Yale nearly two years ago. Pierre came up just short of 100 yards on the ground, taking the ball 19 times for 95 yards and his touchdown, plus caught two passes for 31 yards.
Defensively, juniors Michael Runger and Mike Banaciski each posted double-digit tackles with 11 and 10, respectively, for the Big Green, while senior Teddy Reed provided the lone sack. For Penn, Dan Wilk led his squad with eight stops and one of the four Quaker sacks.
Dartmouth travels to New Haven, Conn., next weekend to take on the Yale Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1) at noon. Next up for Penn is its final non-conference game of the season at home on Franklin Field against William & Mary on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.