IVY CHAMPS! Football Wins at Harvard, 17-7

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -As the season has progressed, the Penn football team has increasingly looked like a championship team.

On Saturday at Harvard Stadium, the Quakers no longer looked that way -- they were. Ivy League champions, to be precise.

Using a fast start in both the first and second quarters, Penn scored all the points they would need. As usual, the defense took it from there as the Quakers gained a 17-7 win over the Crimson.

In a driving rainstorm, Penn clinched a share of its 14th Ivy League title in football -- seven of them coming under head coach Al Bagnoli -- and its first since 2003. The Quakers (7-2, 6-0) can clinch the championship outright next weekend at home when they host Cornell. Kickoff for that game is 1 p.m.

With both teams at 5-0 in the Ivy League, Saturday's game was for all the marbles as far as the championship is concerned; the winner of today's contest clinched a share of the title.

Penn jumped right out in Saturday's contest, going 77 yards on just five plays to draw first blood on its opening drive. A majority of those yards came on two plays, the first a 20-yard rush by Matt Hamscher and the second a short pass that Marcus Lawrence turned into a 51-yard score.

The defense, meanwhile, attempted to assert its authority early, sacking Harvard quarterback Collier Winters twice in the Crimson's opening drive. After stopping another Crimson drive, a bad Harvard punt gave the Quakers the ball on Harvard's 33-yard line. With Keiffer Garton under center for the drive -- his first game action since Columbia on Oct. 17 -- it looked like they might go in for another score, but after a reception Bradford Blackmon fumbled the ball as he was tackled and Harvard recovered on its 12-yard line.

Penn got another great chance to score early in the second quarter when another Harvard punt yielded a bad snap, and after collecting the ball the Crimson's Thomas Hull tried to kick it but the ball was blocked by Jason Schmucker and went out of bounds at the Crimson 29-yard line. This time Kyle Olson was under center, and Penn used nine plays to find paydirt. Following a roughing-the-passer penalty against Harvard that gave the Quakers a first down inside the 1-yard line, Olson snuck it in behind his powerful offensive line.

Penn had one final chance to score just before halftime, driving to Harvard's 11-yard line before missing on three consecutive pass plays. However, Andrew Samson made good on a 28-yard field goal with 31 seconds left.

Harvard (6-3, 5-1) took the opening kickoff of the second half into Penn territory, but just three plays after that Zack Heller stuck Adam Chrissis and forced a fumble that was recovered by Brendan McNally at the Penn 38-yard line. Harvard's next drive was going well until lightning struck again, this time Jim McGoldrick sticking the Crimson's Treavor Scales to force the loose ball and McNally again landing on it.

However, Penn was stopped on downs in Crimson territory, and Harvard finally found paydirt with 3:05 left in the third when Winters found Chris Lorditch behind the Penn secondary. The scoring play went 45 yards and capped a seven-play, 70-yard drive.

Penn drove into Crimson territory in response, but was forced to punt and Harvard made one final charge in the game's final minutes, driving all the way to the Penn 1-yard line with just under three minutes to go. However, the defense stuffed Winters on fourth down and the celebration was on along the Quaker sideline.

Penn held the league's top offense to just 13 first downs and 250 total yards of offense. Senior Jake Lewko had a career-high 15 tackles, two of which went for loss. Senior Joe Goniprow had seven tackles and a sack, and senior Brendan McNally added four tackles and a sack to go along with his two fumble recoveries. Junior Zach Heller also had one of Penn's four sacks against the Ivy League's top passer.

The Quakers outgained the Crimson with 263 total yards as Olson threw for 159 yards on 14-of-24 passing. In addition to his touchdown pass, he did not throw an interception and was never sacked. Garton led the team with 36 rushing yards, followed by Hamscher's 34 on just six carries. Blackmon had a team-high five receptions and Lawrence's 62 receiving yards were a game-high despite missing the entire second half due to injury.

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