PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Penn Quakers will head up to Boston this weekend as they visit the undefeated Harvard Crimson in a huge Ivy League battle.
Penn controls its own destiny when it comes to earning at least a piece of the Ancient 8 crown. The Quakers are 5-3 (4-1 in the Ivy) and they are coming off a memorable win over arch-rival Princeton.
Penn beat the Tigers this past Saturday, 26-23, in overtime at Franklin Field. The Quakers trailed 20-10 at halftime, but they held the Tigers off the scoreboard in the third and fourth quarters. After Princeton kicked a field goal in overtime, the Quakers answered with an Alek Torgersen touchdown pass to Eric Fiore to send the homecoming crowd into a frenzy.
“It was very, very special,” Penn head coach Ray Priore tells KYW Newsradio. “Obviously, we didn’t draw the script to play out that way. But we’re a very, very resilient team. Find a way to win was our motto at halftime, come out there and let’s do all the little things right to get us back in the game and I think, once again, the kids did a nice job in the second half executing.”
Listen to the entire interview with Penn’s Ray Priore
The overtime heroics were possible because Penn junior linebacker Donald Panciello blocked Princeton’s potential game-winning field goal attempt on the final play of regulation.
“It was something that we practice every week, we call it ‘Block to Win,'” Priore says. “Every program and team probably does it, you hope you never have to come out and use it. But great execution by the defensive unit. Everyone really collapsing down from the inside-out, Donald made a great effort hopping between the wing and the tight end and just launched himself.”
Any scenario involving Penn earning at least a share of the Ivy title starts with beating the Crimson on Saturday. A loss against Harvard would eliminate the Quakers from the title race.
“You work hard to get to this point and our kids are just happy to have this opportunity,” Priore says.
Harvard is outstanding. The Crimson sit at 8-0 (5-0 in the Ivy League). They have won 22 games in a row. Their last loss came in triple-overtime at the hands of Princeton back on October 26th of 2013.
The Penn/Harvard match-up carrying a ton of weight is nothing new.
“For the last couple decades, we’ve been going toe-to-toe,” Priore says. “It’s been Penn-Harvard, Harvard-Penn. Have all the respect in the world for Coach (Tim) Murphy and his team.”
For the last eight years one of these teams has won at least a share of the league crown.
Harvard is coming off a 24-16 win over Columbia last week.
Last season, the Crimson defeated the Quakers at Franklin Field, 34-24.
Saturday’s game kicks off at noon.