PHILADELPHIA- With Ivy League title hopes on the line, juniorDonald Pancielloblocked a field goal as time expired to send the Franklin Field Homecoming crowd into a frenzy, and the Ivy League showdown with arch rival Princeton into overtime. Moments later, seniorEric Fiorecaught the game-winning touchdown pass to seal the University of Pennsylvania football team's dramatic 26-23 victory.
Penn (5-3, 4-1 Ivy) controls its own destiny toward a league-record 17th Ivy title. The wild win over Princeton sets up a showdown with unbeaten Harvard next week in Cambridge.
How it Happened
Penn trailed 20-10 at the break, but held the Tigers scoreless in second half. The Quakers tied the game onJimmy Gammill's 42-yard field goal with 3:22 left, but Princeton drove to the Penn 25 and called timeout with four seconds left.
It would have seemed improbable had the Quakers not already done it. Two years ago, in an Ivy matchup with Dartmouth,and headed in the same direction at Franklin Field,Penn blocked a field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime. The longest game in Ivy League history (four overtimes) was also the last time Penn played past regulation.
On Saturday, the Penn faithful were hoping for a repeat of that day when Princeton lined up for the game-winning, 35-yard field goal. Panciello delivered. His rush off the edge caused the first missed field goal of the season for the Tigers in 11 attempts.
Princeton (5-3, 2-3 Ivy) got the ball first in overtime and threw three incompletions. This time, the field goal was good from 42 yards out for a 23-20 lead.
Penn needed just three plays to win the game. After an incompletion, junior Brian Schoenauer ran for 14 yards. Fiore then corralled the game-winning toss from junior quarterback Alek Torgersen, scampered into the end zone, and set off a wild celebration on the field and in the stands.
The game was filled with long possessions. Each of the first five scoring drives were longer than 10 plays. The team's shared field goals in the first quarter, before Penn regained the lead with a four-yard touchdown run from sophomore Tre Solomon at the 9:10 mark of the second quarter.
Princeton scored the last 17 points of the first half, however. The Tigers tied the game on their next drive and then scored again with 19 seconds remaining for a 17-10 advantage. On the ensuing kickoff, the Quakers fumbled and Princeton recovered deep in Penn territory. That enabled the Tigers to tack on a field goal as time expired for a 10-point lead at intermission.
Penn forced a punt and then drove 84 yards on 14 plays. Solomon added his ninth touchdown in the last four games with a three-yard rush to pull Penn within 20-17 with 5:57 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers then used up nearly eight minutes on a 19-play drive, but were stuffed on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line -- foreshadowing his late-game heroics, Panciello came off the edge to make the stop.
Penn's offense responded with a 95-yard drive, but that also ended inside the opponent's 5-yard line with a fumble. The Quakers defense came through though, with a three-and-out which set up Gammill's tying field goal.
Inside the Numbers
This was just the second overtime game in 107 meetings with Princeton. The only other was a two-overtime, road defeat in 2006. This was also just the third overtime Homecoming game in Penn history (first win).
Sophomore linebacker Brandon Mills finished with a career-high and game-high 15 tackles in addition to 2.0 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Senior Tyler Drake had eight tackles, a sack, 3.0 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Panciello tallied nine tackles, while freshmen Sam Philippi and Mason Williams each made six tackles and had two pass breakups.
Torgersen finished 21-of-27 for 178 yards and the game's final score. He also rushed for a career-high 96 yards on 13 carries (7.4 yards/carry). Sophomore Justin Watson caught a career-high 13 of those 21 completions, and finished with his third straight 100-yard receiving game (117). Watson, who also ran for 26 yards on two carries, tied for the fifth-most receptions in a single-game in school history. Schoenauer finished with 68 yards on the ground.
Penn outgained Princeton, 395-382, despite 20 fewer offensive plays. Most of that was on the ground as the Quakers finished with 217 (5.6 yards/carry) to Princeton's 164.
A must-win road trip to Harvard. The Quakers can move into a tie for first in the Ivy League with a victory. Kickoff from Harvard Stadium is set for noon and the game can be seen on the American Sports Network and Ivy League Digital Network.
Download: 8 - Princeton box score.pdf