Football Beats #22/24 Harvard in Final Minute, 27-14

Box Score (PDF)

Post-Game Notes (PDF)

PHILADELPHIA – On a night where he re-wrote the University of Pennsylvania record book, senior quarterback Alek Torgersen left a lasting memory with his final touchdown pass at Franklin Field – a 2-yard delivery to his favorite target with 0:15 to play which secured a rousing win over No. 22/24 Harvard.

Torgersen found Justin Watson to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive which ended with Torgersen’s 51st career touchdown pass – breaking the Penn record set by Gavin Hoffman from 1999-2001.

The Penn bench erupted in celebration after Torgersen’s touchdown pass, and the party in the end zone was so good, the defense wanted in. Harvard had 15 seconds to find a miracle, but instead found Sam Philippi. The sophomore safety forced a fumble by Joe Viviano, and Tayler Hendrickson scooped and scored – Penn’s second defensive touchdown of the night – for a final score of 27-14.

The Red and Blue are now back in a tie for first place in the Ivy League, joining the Crimson and Princeton at 5-1 in Ancient Eight play with one game remaining.

Penn’s road to snapping Harvard’s Ivy-record 13-game road winning streak in Ivy games was slow in developing. On a 40-degree night with winds gusting upwards of 25 mph, it seemed as if points would be at a premium.

The Red and Blue struggled on offense for most of the game – Penn did not run a single play in Harvard territory in the first half – but were picked up by the defense dialing up a season-defining game.

Penn’s lone points of the first half came off a Louis Vecchio 40-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the second quarter to give Penn a 7-3 lead.

In the second half, the Quakers finally ran a play in Harvard territory – and it was a doozy. After a nine-yard Tre Solomon rush gave Penn 1st-and-10 from the Harvard 47, Torgersen connected with Christian Pearson on a 47-yard touchdown to extend Penn’s lead to 14-3 with 10:30 to play in the third quarter.

Vecchio and the defense would keep Harvard at bay for a while, conceding just a 25-yard field goal with 12:44 left in the game before a late Crimson rally almost forced overtime.

With 5:51 to play, Harvard started at Penn’s 38 after a 26-yard punt return from Justice Shelton-Mosley. Eight plays later – including a nine-yard pass to Shelton-Mosley on 4th-and-7 from the Penn 35 – Viviano found Joseph Foster from 26 yards out to bring the Crimson within two, 14-12. Harvard lined up for a two-point conversion, and after a direct snap to the running back was then reversed to Shelton-Mosley, the wide receiver tossed a pass to an open Viviano to tie the game at 14-14

With all three timeouts and 3:23 on the clock, Penn was undaunted. Harvard was offside on the kickoff, giving Penn a free five yards to start at its own 25.

On his final drive on his home field, Torgersen was 8-for-10 for all 80 yards. He connected with three different receivers, with four passes going to Watson – including the game-winner.

Torgersen-to-Watson has been a joy to watch the past three years, and the duo has risen to the top of Penn’s all-time QB/WR combinations. The two have now hooked up a Penn-record 181 times for 2,350 yards. Their 17 touchdowns are tied for the most by a Penn pair.

On the night, Penn had six sacks – the most since totaling six against Fordham last October 10. Vecchio’s three sacks were the most by a Quaker since Tyler Drake had four in that Fordham game.

The Red and Blue will close 2016 with a shot at a second consecutive Ivy League title at Cornell on November 19. Kickoff with the Big Red on Fox College Sports is set for 12 p.m.