The Ivy Trophy: "O.T."
ITHACA, N.Y. - On the 40-yard line with the Ivy League trophy. The University of Pennsylvania football team ended its tumultuous 2010 season with the ultimate prize for a fallen teammate. Shortly after claiming the 15th Ivy League championship in program history with a 31-7 win over Cornell at Schoellkopf Field Saturday afternoon, the Quakers paid the tribute to No. 40 Owen Thomas, who passed away in April.
Thomas, a senior captain-elect, along with longtime coach Dan "Lake" Staffieri each passed away in April and the 2010 Quakers dedicated the season to each of them. The Red and Blue finished unbeaten in Ivy League play for the second straight season - just the third time that has occurred in the 55-year history of the Ivy League (Penn also accomplished the other two under head coach Al Bagnoli in 1993-94 and 2002-03). It also marked the school's 12th outright title - an Ivy record.
Bagnoli claimed his eighth Ivy title - all outright - at Penn. That's the most outright titles for any coach in league history and the second-most overall. With the win, he also claimed the highest Ivy winning percentage in league history at a 72.9 percent clip (97 wins to 36 losses).
In the 117th meeting between the schools, No. 16 Penn (9-1, 7-0 Ivy) won its eighth straight overall and 15th league consecutive league game - the longest-active conference winning streak in the nation and the third-longest streak in the history of the Ivy League. Cornell surrendered the Trustees' Cup to the Quakers for the fourth straight year.
Cornell (2-8, 1-7 Ivy) fumbled on its first offensive play and junior linebacker Erik Rask scooped up the loose ball to give Penn the ball inside the Cornell 20. Four plays later, the school's all-time leading scorer, senior Andrew Samson connected on a 29-yard field goal for the early lead.
Later in the quarter, after the defense forced the Big Red to punt from their own end zone, freshman quarterback Ryan Becker took over the offense in Cornell territory. It took eight plays to go 47 yards for the score, converting a 3rd-and-5 from the Cornell 18 with a 10-yard pass to senior Blake Adams. Sophomore Brandon Colavita finished the drive with a two-yard score to give Penn a 10-0 lead with 2:43 left in the opening quarter.
After another Cornell punt, Penn took over at its own 20-yard line and proceeded to chew up six minutes of the clock en route to another score. Sophomore quarterback Billy Ragone ran for 17 yards on 3rd-and-5 from the Cornell 40 to extend the possession, while Becker went 4-for-5 with 40 yards passing on the drive. Colavita scored his second touchdown of the day with a five-yard rush on third down for a 17-0 advantage at the 9:29 mark of the second quarter.
Just before intermission, sophomore Brandon Copeland burst through Cornell's offensive line, sacked Jeff Mathews and forced a fumble that senior Zach Heller fell on top of at the Cornell 22-yard line. Six plays later, Ragone floated a pass into the near corner of the end zone which was hauled in by senior tight end Ryan Murray for his first career touchdown catch. It gave the Quakers a 24-0 lead with 21 seconds to spare before the half.
Midway through the third quarter, Cornell put together its best offensive drive, reaching the Penn 2. But a pair of penalties pushed them back outside the 10 and on fourth-and-goal, Mathews' pass was knocked down.
The Quakers promptly moved down field for their fourth touchdown of the day and Colavita's career-high third rushing touchdown of the afternoon. The Red and Blue ran the ball on eight of the 10 plays, capped by Colavita's 26-yard score with 2:37 remaining in the third.
To cap the scoring, Cornell broke a 10-quarter scoreless streak against Penn with a five-yard touchdown pass with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game.
Colavita finished with 103 yards on 16 carries, averaging 6.4 yards per rush. He finished the season with 5.8 yards per carry which ranks second all-time in Penn's single-season record book to Chris Flynn's 6.2 average in 1986. Sophomore Jeff Jack had 46 yards and Ragone added 45 yards on the ground. Becker finished the day 8-for-9 passing for 58 yards, while Ragone was 4-for-9 for 43 yards and a score. Freshman Conner Scott was the team's leading receiver with three catches for 34 yards as nine different Quakers finished with a reception.
On the defensive side, senior Josh Powers finished with a career-high 11 tackles and two pass breakups in addition to a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss in his final game in the Red and Blue. Senior Drew Goldsmith had six tackles, two of them for loss, and a pass breakup. Senior Brian Levine recorded his first sack of the season and had five tackles.
In all Penn ran for 282 yards, while Cornell finished with 197 yards of total offense. The Quakers averaged 5.2 yards per rush and had 20 first downs compared to 11 for the Big Red. Penn was 8-for-15 on third down and 4-for-5 in the red zone, while possessing the ball for 36:15.
This was the final game for 32 Penn seniors as they finish their careers with a 22-6 record in Ivy play - the most wins by a Penn senior class since the 2005 seniors won 23 games. The remaining Quakers will begin to defend their back-to-back Ivy championships when spring practices begin in March.