Toast of the Ivies By routing Harvard, Penn avenged last year's loss and won at least a share of another Ivy League title

November 25, 2002

Franklin Field in Philadelphia, one of the oldest of the great
American football houses, was again the center of the sporting
universe last week. Well, it was on the map, anyway. On Saturday,
Penn played Harvard with the Ivy League title at stake. ESPN used
Franklin Field as the set for College GameDay. One of the
analysts, Lee Corso, dressed as Ben Franklin, Penn's founder,
creating a bald spot on the top of his head with what looked like
a flesh-colored yarmulke. When Corso predicted a Penn win, a few
hundred Quakers fans whooped and cheered. For a moment the
Ancient Eight rumbled the way the Big 10 does weekly, although
you could not find a single fan, male or female, with nipples
painted in Penn's red-and-blue colors. It was a cold, wet day,
and Penn kids are smart.

Both teams entered the game with 5--0 records in league play,
meaning that Saturday's winner would secure at least a tie for
the Ivy League championship. Since 1982 the Quakers have been Ivy
poison, winning 10 titles outright or in part. There's no
postseason in the Ivy League; the only way to assure yourself a
wholly satisfying off-season is to win all seven of your league
games. Last year Penn and Harvard were undefeated when they met
in Week 9. Harvard won at home 28--21, then defeated Yale in the
final week. The Quakers and their fans spent a year waiting for
revenge.

When the game finally arrived, more than 18,000 spectators
congregated at Franklin Field. The Harvard faithful, many of them
wearing crimson neckties underneath foul-weather gear suited to
America's Cup sailing, were cheerful for a while. But at some
point, whether because of the driving rain or the lopsided score
or the Penn custom of flinging toast, some of America's most
mannerly football fans could take it no more. When a boy asked
his father why Penn fans were throwing bread, the dad tugged on
the brim of his Harvard cap, stared straight ahead and said
dismissively, "Just some silly tradition." No, it's called humor,
rooted in the Quakers' fight-song lyric, "Here's a toast to dear
old Penn."

The final score: Penn 44, Harvard 9. A closer game had been
expected. Harvard entered the game sixth in the nation in total
offense; Penn was first against the rush. On Saturday you could
see why the Quakers' defense had been dominant. The Penn hits
were punishing. The beginning of the end for Harvard came late in
the first quarter, when Penn senior defensive end Chris
Pennington recovered a fumble and ran the most gratifying 51-yard
dash of his life, for a touchdown. The Quakers then scored 34
unanswered points before Harvard scored a late touchdown. Penn
coach Al Bagnoli called it the best performance by the Quakers in
his 11 years at the university. His kids played as if they had
something to prove. And they did. "I talked to Harvard when I was
coming out of high school, but they didn't like my SAT score,"
Pennington said after the game. He went to La Salle High, near
Philly, and scored 1,180 on the SAT. "I liked Penn better
anyway."

The Harvard game was Pennington's last at Franklin Field. This
Saturday he and his teammates will make the six-hour bus trip
north for the season-ender at Cornell. Harvard plays Yale at
home. If Harvard wins and Penn loses, the two teams will share
the Ivy title. Yet by late Saturday afternoon Penn kids were
wearing Tshirts stenciled with the words penn 2002 ivy league
champions. Maybe that wasn't the smartest thing, but at least the
extra layer was helping to keep them dry.

COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON IT'S A WRAP After the Penn defense smothered Crimson quarterback Neil Rose, the Quakers had plenty to celebrate. COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON IT'S A WRAP After the Penn defense smothered Crimson quarterback Neil Rose, the Quakers had plenty to celebrate.

Mighty Quakers

Since 1982, Penn has dominated Ivy League football, winning the
conference 10 times either outright or in part. Here are the
champions over the last two decades.

YEAR CHAMPION(S)

1982 Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn
1983 Harvard, Penn
1984 Penn
1985 Penn
1986 Penn
1987 Harvard
1988 Cornell, Penn
1989 Princeton, Yale
1990 Cornell, Dartmouth
1991 Dartmouth

YEAR CHAMPION(S)

1992 Dartmouth, Princeton
1993 Penn
1994 Penn
1995 Princeton
1996 Dartmouth
1997 Harvard
1998 Penn
1999 Brown, Yale
2000 Penn
2001 Harvard

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)