By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After a wild, 38-30 loss at Harvard last week that officially eliminated them from the Ivy league title race, the Penn Quakers will look to finish up 2013 on a high note on Saturday when they host Cornell.
As for that Harvard loss, it truly was the type of game you had to see to believe. Harvard dominated for two and a half quarters, rolling out to a 38-0 lead. But then the light went on for Penn and they scored 30 unanswered points and actually had their final drive end at the Crimson 20-yard-line in the final seconds.
“That was a game for the ages,” Penn head coach Al Bagnoli tells KYW Newsradio. “In the first half, everything that could go wrong, went wrong, in all three facets of play. And we went from playing the worst thirty minutes that we’ve played in a long time, to probably playing the best twenty-three minutes that we’ve played in a long time. Had five consecutive three and outs (on defense), scored and had two-point conversions. Honestly had the momentum and an opportunity to try and tie the game and send it to overtime. So we’ve got to try and figure out what happen in the first half and then build upon what happen in the second half and hopefully we can take some positive energy out of that.”
The loss dropped the Quakers to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the Ivy League.
It has been a real struggle for Cornell as they are just 2-7 (1-5 in the Ivy), but they are coming off a 24-9 win over Columbia last weekend.
“Last week was a little bit different Cornell profile,” Bagnoli says. “(Senior) quarterback (Jeff Matthews) was hurt and so they went to really a running attack and they rushed the ball 51 times, which is unheard of for them. If the quarterback is healthy, he is one of the all-time passing leaders in the history of the Ivy League and I think they’ll kind of get back to their wide-open, pass-happy, 75% pass, 25% run (offense).”
Matthews really has some unbelievable career numbers. He has thrown for 10,817 yards in his career which is an Ivy League record and 25th all-time in FCS. He has 68 career touchdown passes, which is second all-time in the Ancient 8.
In addition to being the season finale, Saturday will represent the final game in a Penn uniform for a senior class that has won a ton of games and a couple of outright Ivy League titles.
“It’s been a really good group,” Bagnoli says. “Not only the senior class, but we’ve had four or five fifth-year kids, and they really have left a terrific legacy in our program. Hopefully, we can get everybody out on a positive note, get some momentum for the off-season and I think you always want to defend home field.”
Saturday’s game will kick-off at 1:00pm at Franklin Field.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.