HANOVER, N.H. - Playing in rainy, wet conditions for the second consecutive week, the University of Pennsylvania football team pulled out a win in Hanover, N.H., defeating Dartmouth, 30-24, in the Ivy League opener for both teams.
Penn, who played without starting quarterback Keiffer Garton or preseason All-American cornerback Chris Wynn, moved to 1-2 on the year and 1-0 in the Ivy League, while Dartmouth lost for the 15th consecutive time, going 0-3 on the season and 0-1 in the Ivy League.
Led by freshman Lyle Marsh's 120 rushing yards, Penn gained 288 yards on the ground which included rushing touchdowns from freshman quarterback Billy Ragone and junior fullback Luke DeLuca. But it was junior Bradford Blackmon who changed the game early in the fourth quarter.
Dartmouth had clearly gained momentum after pulling within 20-17 at the end of the third quarter. On Penn's next possession, the Quakers quickly faced third-and-three from their own 44. With the crowd on its feet, Blackmon went right and took a pitch from Olson, found a hole and turned on the speed. He went 55 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the one-yard line. Fullback Luke DeLuca finished it off from there, rushing for his third career touchdown on the next play.
Senior Jonathan Moore, who finished with a career best and team-high eight tackles, intercepted Dartmouth's Alex Jenny on the next possession and the Quakers were never really threatend after that. Senior Andrew Samson knocked in his third field goal of the game - tying a career high - on the ensuing drive for a 30-17 lead with 1:09 to go.
Dartmouth scored with five seconds remaining to bring the Big Green within six points, but Kyle Derham jumped on the Big Green's onside kick to officially seal the game.
Entering the game, Penn had not led at any point in 2009. Two minutes into Saturday's contest, the Quakers were on the board and never trailed after that point.
It was the Penn special teams unit that struck the first blow. The defense forced a three-and-out on the first Dartmouth possession and on the ensuing punt, the snap flew well over the head of the Big Green punter, Matthew Kelly. When Kelly scooped up the ball and tried to punt, sophomore Jim McGoldrick blocked the kick, chased the ball into the endzone and fell on it for a 7-0 Penn lead two minutes into the contest. The last time Penn blocked a punt for a touchdown was when Kevin Gray (block) and Tyson Maugle (touchdown) did so last season against Brown - a game that was also televised on VERSUS.
Following the Penn touchdown, Dartmouth responded on their next possession with a nine-play drive that ended in a 22-yard field goal. The Big Green had first-and-goal at the six, but the Quakers' defense kept them out of the end zone.
Later in the first quarter, the Penn offense got its first points of the day. Six of the seven plays were rushes by either Ragone and Marsh as they accounted for all 54 yards on the drive, capped off by Ragone's first collegiate touchdown - a three-yard rush to the near corner of the end zone.
Dartmouth got back to within one possession, 14-10, midway through the second quarter. The Big Green pieced together a 13-play drive. The last play of the 74-yard march was a leaping 12-yard touchdown catch over a Penn defender in the back corner of the endzone.
For the second straight game the Quakers added a late first-half field goal, driving 38 yards on 12 plays to set up Samson's 39-yard attempt. The drive lasted 5:47 and took up all but the last 47 seconds of the half, ensuring the 17-10 lead at intermission.
Samson was then called upon early in the second half for his second field goal of the game. Blackmon's 33-yard kick return and a late-hit penalty gave the Red and Blue the ball at the Dartmouth 26-yard line. Samson's 33-yard field goal gave Penn a 20-10 lead less than two minutes into the half.
The 10-point lead stuck until the last play of the third quarter. Two plays after converting a fourth-and-one from the Penn 40, Big Green running back Nick Schwieger scampered 19 yards to pull Dartmouth within three, leading to Blackmon's clutch run.
Junior Josh Powers was second on the team with seven tackles, while junior Owen Thomas registered his his third sack in three games. Junior Brian Levine was credited with Penn's other sack after forcing a fumble from Jenny.
Junior David Wurst led the team with 34 receiving yards on two catches. Blackmon added three catches and 70 rush yards and a 21-yard completion, in addition to his 84 kick return yards. Ragone tallied 62 yards on nine carries as Penn averaged 6.3 yards per rush for the game.
Next week the Quakers return home to take on Bucknell at Franklin Field. Kickoff with the Bison is set for 1 p.m.