Another Final-Minute Game-Winner for Football, 27-20 at Columbia
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Quarterback Billy Ragone scrambled in from seven yards out for the game-winning touchdown with 25 seconds left in front Columbia's Homecoming crowd and a national television audience on a windy Saturday afternoon at Kraft Field in New York City. The 27-20 victory gave the University of Pennsylvania football team its 17th straight Ivy League win - tied for second-most all-time and - tied a school record with the program's 12th straight Ivy road win.
For the second time in three weeks, the Quakers rallied on national television to defeat an Ivy opponent on the road in the final 30 seconds. Penn won its third straight overall, its 15th straight over Columbia and its 17 straight in the month of October to improve to 3-2 on the year and 2-0 in the Ivy League. Columbia remained winless this season at 0-5 overall and 0-2 in Ivy play.
Junior Brandon Colavita, who went over 1,000 yards in his career with a team-high 85 on the day, gave Penn a 20-17 lead on a three-yard touchdown rush with 11:02 to play.
It was a wild ending from there.
With the wind finally settling down and the sun having long set, Columbia was forced to punt after three plays, but the punt bounced and hit a Penn player. The Lions recovered at the Penn 36. Three plays later, junior Anthony Marino pulled in his first career interception to give Penn the ball back at its own seven with 9:54 left.
Penn punted, but the ball bounced off a Columbia player and was kicked back nearly 20 yards before the Lions recovered again at their own 11 with 6:06 to go.
The Lions proceeded to march down into Penn territory. The Quakers forced a 4th-and-10 at the Penn 35, but Columbia kept the game alive with a 24-yard strike. They had second-and-3 from the Penn four-yard line, but three straight penalties pushed the Lions back to the 19 and Columbia settled for the game-tying field goal with 1:28 to go.
Enter more late-game heroics from the Quakers.
Columbia's squib kick only went to the Penn 44 and Ragone threw to senior Ryan Calvert, who finished with a career-best eight catches and 105 receiving yards, three straight times for 46 yards to set up first-and-goal from the 10 with 1:05 to play.
On third down, Ragone scrambled his way into the end zone for his second dramatic touchdown of the day. It ensured the survival of the longest active conference winning streak in the nation.
The game, shown on the VERSUS network, didn't start out with much flare. After a series of punts to start, the Lions, who were playing with the wind at their backs to start the game, struck first with a 31-yard field goal to take the early lead with 3:20 left in the opening quarter.
On Penn's first drive of the second quarter - playing with the wind in its favor for the first time - the Quakers fumbled on their first play. Columbia returned it to the Penn 14-yard line and extended its lead to 10-0 just two plays later.
It didn't take long for the Red and Blue to respond, however. A great return by senior Matt Hamscher set the Quakers up near midfield and just eight plays later, freshman Connor Loftus knocked through a 35-yard field goal to get Penn within seven at the 9:21 mark of the second quarter.
Once again though, Penn did most of its damage during the two-minute drill. Starting from their own 43 with just over a minute left in the half, Ragone completed two passes and rushed for seven yards to set up first-and-goal from the 10 with 30 seconds left on the clock.
A two-yard rush, incompletion and seven-yard pass set up fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line with just seven seconds left. Head Coach Al Bagnoli, elected to go for it. Ragone rushed to his left and found the goal line to tie the game as the half expired, 10-10.
Columbia received the ball to start the second half and had the wind. Just three big pass plays later, they led 17-10. But the Penn defense came back to set up Penn's next scoring drive.
Hamscher stopped a Columbia drive with his first interception of the season at midfield. Ragone then converted a third-and-one from the Columbia 43 with a 19-yard run. That set up a 36-yard field goal by Loftus to pull within 17-13 with 1:58 left in the third quarter.
Ragone finished 18-for-31 for 185 yards and no interceptions for the third straight week. He also had 39 rushing yards and the two rushing scores. Sophomore Ryan Mitchell had another big day with 66 receiving yards on a career-high seven receptions.
On the defensive side, junior Brandon Copeland and seniors Erik Rask and Fred Craig each had a team-high six tackles. Senior Jared Sholly recorded his first sack of the year, while sophomore David Park pulled down his first career sack. Rask added another for Penn for a season-high three sacks.
Its a huge Ivy League matchup next week and for the third time in six games this year, the Quakers will be on national television. VERSUS will broadcast Penn's first Ivy home game of the year when the Ivy unbeaten Quakers welcome the Ivy unbeaten Yale Bulldogs to Franklin Field. Kick is set for noon on Saturday.