Overtime Unkind to the Green in 35-28 Loss at Penn
Junior quarterback Conner Kempe matched a season and career high by tossing three touchdown passes while completing 17-of-32 for 239 yards. More than half of those yards (134) went to junior Michael Reilly, who snared five throws including the game-tying score near the end of the fourth quarter. Junior tight end John Gallagher hauled in a pair of passes in the end zone as well.
The Penn offense, meanwhile, was based on a strong running game that averaged 5.1 yards per carry and timely passing with Billy Ragone running for 57 yards and three touchdowns. He also connected on 15-of-24 passes for 132 yards and another score to go along with two interceptions.. Halfback Jeff Jack led the Quakers’ ground game with 95 yards on 17 carries, while Colavita covered 62 yards and reached the end zone once on just nine rushes.
The coin toss for overtime was won by Dartmouth, which elected to play defense first. Penn faced a 3rd-and-8 right off the bat, but Ragone completed his most important pass of the day to David Wurst, who made a diving grab at the one. Two plays later, Ragone pushed just far enough to get over the goal line, and Andrew Samson booted the PAT for a 35-28 lead.
The Big Green went for the end zone on their first play with a fade pattern to Reilly, but the pass was off the mark. After junior Nick Schwieger ran for seven yards, Kempe lofted another pass to the other side of the field to senior Tanner Scott, but it also fell to the ground. On 4th-and-4, Kempe had his throw tipped at the line, causing it to come up short of its target and allowing heavily favored Penn to escape with the win.
Trailing 21-14 at the onset of the second half, Dartmouth tried to set the tone as junior Donald Kephart booted the kickoff through the end zone. But Penn asserted itself by covering the 80 yards in 14 plays while gobbling up half of the quarter. Three of the Big Green’s six penalties in the game came during the drive, including a costly and controversial personal foul call. Ragone converted a 3rd-and-2 at the Dartmouth three-yard line with a pass to fullback Luke DeLuca for a touchdown to give the Quakers their largest lead of the game at 28-14.
Momentum favored the host Quakers as the Big Green went three-and-out, but that momentum quickly shifted when sophomore cornerback Chase Womack picked off a Ragone pass and returned it to the Penn 20. Dartmouth nearly settled for a field goal, but Reilly — serving as the holder — got up and ran with the ball instead for a first down at the four-yard line. On the next play, Kempe found Gallagher in the back of the end zone to close the gap to seven points.
After Penn failed to get a first down, the Big Green took over at their own 25. A pass interference call against the Quakers gave Dartmouth one first down, but the big play was a 53-yard bomb — all in the air — to Reilly to the Penn nine. A holding penalty negated a Schwieger sweep around the left side for a touchdown, but two plays later Kempe hooked up with Reilly again from 10 yards out for the score. Junior Foley Schmidt provided the point after to knot the score at 28 with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Quakers had their chances in the fourth quarter, only to be stymied. Ragone was intercepted again at the Dartmouth 28 on one drive, and Samson had a 26-yard field goal attempt blocked with 4:24 left in regulation. The Green had an opportunity to drive for the possible winning score, and even pulled off a 4th-and-1 at their own 25 to sustain the drive. Then on the cusp of being in field goal range, a false start pushed them back to the Penn 39. Facing a 4th-and-7 with 40 seconds to play, Dartmouth decided to take its chances in overtime as freshman punter Daniel Barstein pinned the Quakers at their own two.
For the third straight week, Dartmouth’s opponent put points on the board on its first possession. The Big Green got the ball first but could not produce a first down, then Penn quickly marched 76 yards with Ragone scampering the final 14 yards for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Dartmouth did not wait long to answer the challenge as junior Shawn Abuhoff got things started with a kickoff return to midfield. Kempe guided the Green offense to the end zone in seven plays, culminating with a one-yard plunge by Schwieger. The big play, however, was a 36-yard diving catch by Reilly to the Quaker two on third down. The point after sailed through the upright to tie the game at seven.
The Quakers continued to prove problematic for the Dartmouth defense, traversing 68 yards in 11 plays. It appeared the Green might get the stop they needed inside the 10-yard line on third down, but Ragone — with no receiver open in sight — scrambled for the final six yards and dove for the pylon to score his second touchdown of the day with 1:16 remaining in the first quarter.
Again Dartmouth had a response, tying the game at 14 early in the second quarter on a 12-yard scoring strike from Kempe to Gallagher in the corner of the end zone. The drive was kept alive by senior Tim McManus who caught a 4th-and-12 pass across the middle to get the Green into the red zone.
Colavita capped off a 65-yard Quaker drive with a four-yard burst through the right side into the end zone, giving Penn a 21-14 lead which it took into the locker room.
The Dartmouth rushing game, which averaged over 200 yards in the first two Big Green games, was held to 79 yards by the Penn defense. Schwieger accounted for 72 of those yards, extending the Quakers’ streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher to 26 straight contests.
Dartmouth returns to Hanover for the next two weeks, playing host to Yale (2-1, 1-0 Ivy) next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Penn travels to Bucknell next week to play the Bison at 1 p.m.