Highlight: Holder's Juggling 1st Quarter Catch
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - All season long, fourth-quarter comebacks kept the University of Pennsylvania football team alive in the Ivy League football title race. On a prototypical New England fall day at Harvard Stadium, late-game heroics alluded the Quakers as Harvard went on a 30-point run to end Penn's two-year reign atop the Ancient Eight via a 37-20 decision Saturday.
The loss rendered the Quakers 4-2 inside the Ivy League and 5-4 overall. Harvard won for the eighth straight time to go to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in Ivy play. Brown fell to Dartmouth, clinching the outright title for Harvard.
Junior Billy Ragone threw for two scores and ran for another as he became the first Penn player in school history with 1,000 career rushing yards and 2,000 career passing yards.
The first five possessions of the game ended in punts, but Penn's offense was the first to strike. The Quakers went 69 yards in seven plays, highlighted by a wild third-down conversion. Ragone's pass was tipped twice before senior Joe Holder hauled it in for a 22-yard gain. The next play, Ragone connected with senior wideout Ryan Calvert for a 21-yard scoring strike and a 7-0 lead with 44 ticks left in the opening quarter.
Harvard then punted again, but Penn fumbled on its first play and Harvard needed just one play to tie the game. A 24-yard pass knotted the game at 7-7 with 13:14 left in the half.
A series of punts followed again before a hurry-up offense sparked the Crimson in the final minutes of the half. The drive went 70 yards in seven plays and ended with a 14-yard touchdown run to give the Crimson a 14-7 lead with 1:06 to go in the half.
A botched punt gave Harvard the ball back at the Penn 18-yard line with six seconds left. The Crimson knocked through a field goal for a 17-7 lead at intermission.
Harvard extended its lead to 24-7 on its first drive of the second half. The Crimson needed just 3:44 to go 74 yards, the final play a four-yard quarterback keeper for Collier Winters.
Harvard added another score on the second play of the final quarter. A one-yard rush capped a 49-yard drive and gave the Crimson a 30-7 lead with just 14:26 remaining.
Two plays later, it was a 20-point deficit when Harvard returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown.
The Quakers did their best to get back into the game in the fourth quarter with a pair of quick touchdowns.
Midway through the last quarter junior Anthony Marino recovered a muffed punt return at the Harvard 7. On fourth-and-goal, Ragone ran it in from a yard away to make the score, 37-14 at the 8:21 mark of the fourth quarter.
Penn's defense held, giving the offense a chance to again march down the field. On Penn's next possession, Ragone drove the Quakers 57 yards in five plays, with Ragone finding Calvert in the back of the end zone from 13 yards out to make the score 37-20. Penn went for two, but Ragone's pass was knocked away from Holder with 3:56 left.
Harvard thwarted any more thoughts of a comeback by running the clock down inside a minute to play to dethrone the Quakers for the first time since 2008.
Ragone was 16-for-32 with two touchdowns and 190 yards passing. Calvert was his primary target, reeling in 11 passes for 114 yards and a two scores. It marked the most receptions in a game for a Quaker since Braden Lepisto had that same number in 2007. Calvert is also just one catch shy of becoming the first Penn player with 50 receptions in a season since Lepisto did it that same year.
On the defensive side, Erik Rask was in on 10 tackles, making five solo stops while Jared Sholly made six of his eight tackles by himself -- four of which were for Crimson losses, including two sacks.
Senior Day is up next for the Quakers. There are 19 members of the Red and Blue who will be playing in their final game Saturday against Cornell. Kickoff from Franklin Field is at 1 p.m.