BOSTON, Mass. - One of the best offensive performances in school history launched the University of Pennsylvania football team to a 35-25 win at No. 12/13 Harvard on Saturday and into a tie for first place in the Ivy League.
On a ferociously windy day, sophomore wide receiverJustin Watson finished with 249 all-purpose yards -- a career-high 149 receiving yards and a career-best 100 yards rushing -- to finish just outside the top-five best offensive outputs in the program's 139-year history. He added a pair of long touchdowns, including the back-breaking 79-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
For the first time in school history, the Quakers have won two road games against Top 25 opponents in the same season. It marked the fifth straight victory for Penn (6-3, 5-1 Ivy), and halted the nation's longest win streak at 22 games.
The Quakers can clinch a share of their 17th Ivy League championship with a win over Cornell (1-8, 1-5 Ivy) in the season finale on Saturday at Franklin Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
How it Happened
Penn struck first with a 70-yard touchdown drive on its first possession. Junior Brian Schoenauer barreled through a defender to pick up a big third down near midfield, before sophomore Justin Watson hauled in a 28-yard reception to set up Alek Torgersen's first rushing touchdown of the quarter from nine yards out.
The same formula worked on the following drive. After the defense forced another three-and-out, Schoenauer converted a big third down and Torgersen hit freshman Christian Pearson for 28 yards to reach the red zone. Just two plays later, Torgersen ran it in from two yards out for a 14-0 lead at the 5:19 mark of the opening quarter.
A long kick return by Harvard (8-1, 5-1 Ivy) set the Crimson up for a 17-yard scoring drive that needed just two plays, but the Crimson missed the extra point. After that, Penn responded when Torgersen hit Watson for a 68-yard touchdown pass and 21-6 lead with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
When the teams switched ends of the field, Harvard used the wind to its advantage. The Crimson scored three straight touchdowns, and while they were unsuccessful on a pair of missed conversions they took a 25-21 lead into the break.
With the wind at its back again in the third quarter, Penn quickly regained the lead on its first possession of the half. Lonnie Tuff returned the second-half kickoff to Harvard's 39-yard line, and just four plays later Torgersen hit a wide-open Ryan Kelly in the left flat for a 28-yard score and 28-25 lead at the 13:08 mark. Those ended up being the only points scored in the period.
Penn played into the wind again for the final quarter. The Red and Blue had the ball to start the period, though, and quickly added an insurance score. Watson took a handoff around the right end and, led by some great blocking, went untouched down the sideline 79 yards to make the score 35-25.
There were still nearly 14 minutes left, though -- plenty of time for Harvard to regroup. That never happened. The Crimson's first drive after the score ended at Penn's 31-yard line, when a pass fell incomplete on 4th-and-6. Penn's ensuing drive yielded just one first down, but impressively ate up nearly four minutes of game time before the Quakers finally punted.
Harvard's next drive looked like it might stall near midfield, when a fourth-down pass appeared to be a sure interception. Instead, the ball bounced through the Penn defender's hands and into the arms of a Harvard receiver, who turned it into a 28-yard gain to the Quakers 25-yard line. On the very next play, however, the Penn defense forced a fumble in front of its bench, and Ian Dobbins fell on it before it went out of bounds to give the Quakers the ball with 3:25 left.
Harvard was forced to use all of its timeouts, and Penn got a huge first down when Torgersen found Watson for seven yards on 3rd-and-4. That allowed the Quakers to get the clock inside a minute before they finally relinquished possession, and in many ways Hunter Kelley symbolized the day when his final punt, into the wind, travelled 63 yards and was downed on Harvard's 3-yard line.
Any chances for a Crimson miracle were doused on the first play of the drive, when seniorDylan Muscat settled under a desperation pass out of the end zone and intercepted the ball at the Harvard 35-yard line.
Inside the Numbers
In addition to the 22-game winning streak, Penn also stopped Harvard's 16-game Ivy League winning streak. As a result, the Ivy League records for consecutive overall wins (24) and Ivy League wins (20) -- both held by the Penn program -- remain intact thanks to this current Quakers outfit.
Defensively, the Quakers forced three more turnovers and have a plus-12 turnover margin in the current five-game winning streak (17 takeaways). Penn had five sacks by five different players, including one from senior Tyler Drake who now has 8.5 this season -- 10th-most all-time at Penn -- and 17.5 for his career -- fifth-most all-time at Penn. Drake also added a team-high 12 tackles, while junior linebacker Donald Panciello added 10.
Watson, a wide receiver, accounted for 100 of Penn's 164 rushing yards on just five carries. He also had 149 of Penn's 245 receiving yards on seven catches. Schoenauer was second on the team with 27 rushing yards, and Pearson had the second-most receiving yards with 32.
Torgersen was 17-of-26 for 245 yards, two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception in 154 attempts (since Sept. 24), and has 13 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in Ivy games this year.
Its the final Hurrah, Hurrah, Pennsylvania, for Penn’s senior class. Their final home game at historic Franklin Field will be the 122nd all-time meeting in the fifth-oldest rivaly in college football. Penn and Cornell kickoff is set for 1 p.m. The game can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network.