With three weeks remaining in the Ivy League season, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard have separated themselves from the pack. The two teams are set for a showdown Nov. 10 in Cambridge, Mass. — that is if they can get through next week unscathed. For the other teams in the league, the rest of the season is only about pride.
Harvard 31, Dartmouth 21
Looking like a team of destiny, the Crimson (6-0, 4-0 Ivy) dodged another bullet against a Dartmouth (1-5, 1-3) squad that has come excruciatingly close to upsetting both Harvard and Penn.
Fans on hand at Harvard Stadium Saturday witnessed the largest comeback in Harvard’s 128-year football history. Trailing 21-0 at halftime, the Crimson stormed back to score 31 unanswered points in the second half.
In his first career start, freshman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 262 yards and one touchdown, and also rushed for 58 yards. Junior wide out Carl Morris caught 11 passes for 153 yards as the Crimson racked up 264 yards in the second half, compared to Dartmouth’s 27.
The Big Green were led by senior tailback Michael Gratch, who rushed for 98 yards on 22 carries, and took much of the burden off of freshman quarterback Evan Love, who completed only five passes on the day.
Harvard will travel to New York Saturday to battle a suddenly competitive Columbia squad. Dartmouth will host Cornell.
Penn 27, Brown 14
A close game turned into a comfortable victory for the Quakers (6-0, 4-0) early in the fourth quarter, thanks to the legs of senior running back Kris Ryan.
Ryan rushed for 189 yards and two scores, and also caught a touchdown. The pesky Bears (3-3, 2-2) kept the game tight for three quarters and tied the score at 14-14 on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Rowley to Chas Gessner with 5:15 remaining in the third quarter.
But touchdown runs of 2 and 3 yards by Ryan sealed the Penn victory and maintained the Quakers’ perfect season. Penn’s defense — the top-ranked defense against the run in Division I-AA — held Brown to minus-26 yards rushing.
Quarterback Kyle Rowley, however, picked apart the Quaker secondary, finishing 23 of 47 for 312 yards and one score. Penn quarterback Gavin Hoffman finished 18 for 25 for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
Penn will host Ivy doormat Princeton, while Brown will play Yale at the Yale Bowl Saturday.
Cornell 10, Princeton 7
In a game nobody outside of Ithaca or Princeton cared about, the Big Red (1-5, 1-3) won their first game of the season when Princeton place-kicker Taylor Northrop’s 57-yard field goal bounced off the cross bar in the fourth quarter.
Cornell’s kicker Peter Iverson gave the Big Red a 10-7 lead on a 40-yard field goal with 13:25 remaining in the game, atoning for an earlier miss.
Senior tailback Evan Simmons rushed for 106 yards on 20 carries, and quarterback Ricky Rahne passed for 176 yards and one touchdown for the Big Red. Apart from similar touchdown drives in the second quarter, neither offense was able to move the ball with any degree of success.
The Tigers (1-5, 1-3) opened the scoring with a 98-yard drive that resulted in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Dave Splithoff to Mike Chiusano. Cornell answered right back with a 10-play, 78-yard drive, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Rahne to Keith Ferguson to even the score at 7-7 heading into halftime.
The second half came down to the kickers, and when Princeton failed where Cornell had succeed, the Big Red ended their worst losing streak to open a season since 1985.
Cornell will travel to Dartmouth Saturday, and Princeton will visit Penn in what could be the mismatch of the season.