HANOVER, N.H. — Penn quarterback Billy Ragone orchestrated a 13-play, 89-yard drive that culminated with a three-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Calvert with 17 seconds remaining to lift the visiting Quakers to a 22-20 victory over Dartmouth, disappointing the 8,117 rain-soaked fans that witnessed the first-ever night game at Memorial Field on Saturday evening. Penn (1-2, 1-0 Ivy), the two-time defending Ivy League champion, extended its conference winning streak to 16 games thanks to Ragone, who completed all eight of his passes and accounted for 86 of the 89 yards with his arm and legs. The Big Green (1-2, 0-1 Ivy) fell for the second straight game in the final minute, despite a fourth-consecutive 100-yard rushing game from senior Nick Schwieger.
Nick Schwieger broke off a 27-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to give Dartmouth a 20-16 lead.
Dartmouth did not take the lead in the contest until the middle of the fourth quarter when Schwieger broke several tackles during a 27-yard touchdown run for a 20-16 lead with 8:27 to play. Two 15-yard penalties against Penn during the drive helped set up the score.
The Quakers quickly went three-and-out before punting back to Dartmouth, which managed one first down on a 13-yard pass from senior quarterback Conner Kempe to senior tight end John Gallagher. But after three runs that gained a total of five yards, Big Green punter Daniel Barstein was summoned to pin Penn deep in its own territory, which he did at the 11 with 3:57 to play.
Ragone immediately went to work with a pair of runs that covered 18 yards, then started the air attack with a seven-yard completion to his tight end, Luke Nawrocki. When faced with a 3rd-and-1 at the Penn 48, Ragone kept the ball for an eight-yard gain to push into Big Green territory. He completed each of his next four passes to penetrate down to the 11, then tossed a pass to Ryan Mitchell who scampered into the end zone, only to have the touchdown erased by a holding call.
The penalty turned out to be merely a momentary setback as Ragone connected with Joe Holder for 18 yards. After a Penn timeout, Ragone threw to Calvert, despite the latter being well-covered by a Dartmouth defender. But Calvert battled to keep his grasp on the pass for the winning score and the only touchdown for the Quaker offense all night. The Big Green kept their slim hopes alive by blocking the extra-point attempt, meaning a field goal would win the game.
Dartmouth fielded a squib kick and advanced to its own 43 with just 11 ticks showing on the clock and two timeouts left. Kempe stepped up in the pocket, only to fire a ball into the arms of Quaker linebacker Jason Rasmussen, leaving the simple formality of a kneel-down to end the game.
Buddy Teevens, Dartmouth’s Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach, stated about Ragone’s late-game heroics, “I thought he did a great job. He could not afford to make a mistake and he didn’t. We had some pressure on him. He made some very accurate throws, no errant throws and we didn’t have an opportunity to pick the ball off or deflect passes.
“It was a great football game,” he continued. “The two teams played hard and give them credit, in that final drive they did what they had to do. I thought my guys played hard throughout the ballgame and played physical football. It was tough coming so close and not finishing on top. We did a lot of things well, but we have to regroup and go forward.”
Both defenses controlled most of the game, and neither side could mount much offense at the outset. Late in the first quarter, Penn had just three first downs — which led to a 38-yard field goal that was off the mark — and Dartmouth nary a one when the Big Green took over at their own 20. In the Wildcat formation, the Green snapped the ball to senior wide receiver Tim McManus, who had it jarred loose by Quaker linebacker Erik Rask. The ball popped up into the air and landed in the waiting arms of defensive lineman Brandon Copeland, who loped 15 yards into the end zone for a surprising 7-0 Penn lead.
A 17-yard Schwieger run pushed Dartmouth past the 50 for the first time late in the first quarter, leading to a career-long 46-yard field goal by senior Foley Schmidt on the first play of the second stanza.
Penn went right back on the attack, moving into the red zone before senior safety Joey Casey stripped the ball loose from Brandon Colavita and sophomore linebacker Bronson Green recovered it at the Big Green 12. Penalties by both sides marred the Dartmouth drive that lasted nearly five minutes but advanced just 25 yards. In the final six minutes of the half, the Quakers drove twice to convert a pair of field goals by Connor Loftus, one from 44 yards and the second from 35, despite the protests of Coach Teevens who believed time expired before the ball was snapped.
The first Dartmouth touchdown came in the third quarter after junior Teddy Reed blocked a Penn 36-yard field goal try. Schwieger ran four times for 25 yards and sophomore Dominick Pierre posted runs of 16 and 17 yards during the drive, while Kempe completed each of his four passes, the final one to a wide-open Gallagher in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown toss. Schmidt’s extra point made it a 13-10 game.
The offense celebrates Schwieger’s touchdown run.
Penn still led 13-10 entering the fourth quarter, then doubled that lead less than two minutes into the period on Loftus’ third field goal of the day, this one from 27 yards out. The Big Green responded with a 30-yard field goal by Schmidt, which was set up by a 34-yard pass from Kempe to freshman Kirby Schoenthaler. On the next drive, Schwieger broke off his long touchdown run, giving Dartmouth its only lead of the night.
Ragone, who completed more passes on the final drive than the rest of the entire game, finished the night 15-of-25 for 160 yards through the air and the one touchdown. While he gained 63 yards on the ground on 14 carries, Colavita led the Quakers with 102 yards on 24 rushes.
Schwieger took the handoff 26 times for 125 yards and a touchdown, while Pierre amassed 41 yards on just four runs. Kempe completed 11-of-23 passes for 126 yards with one score and his first two picks of the season, plus was sacked for the first time this year. The Big Green, which had managed just 69 yards of offense by halftime, broke out in the second half for 206 yards for a total of 275 on the night.
Dartmouth plays its next two games on the road, beginning with Yale (2-1, 1-0) next Saturday at noon. Penn hosts Fordham next Saturday in its fourth straight night game, with kickoff slated for 6 p.m.
Notes: Schwieger, who recorded his 11th career 100-yard game, needs just 13 more yards to become Dartmouth’s all-time rushing leader … senior receiver Tim McManus did not return to the game after a hard hit in the second quarter, but encouragingly jogged off the field ... Dartmouth has lost 13 of its last 14 games against Penn, but each of the last three have been by seven or fewer points.