The Dartmouth Big Green defeated the Penn Quakers, 28-15, in the Ivy League opener for both teams on Friday night at Franklin Field.
Dartmouth is still undefeated with a record of 3-0, while Penn holds a record of 1-2. The Big Green took an immediate 14-0 lead in the first quarter, thanks to a 57-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jared Gerbino followed by a Penn fumble, which was recovered for a touchdown.
“We went to the locker room at halftime and looked at the stats, along with everything else and it was two plays,” Penn head coach Ray Priore said.
“They got some yards and we got some yards. That’s the flow of the football game. You hate when you dial it down to really a play or two, that makes the difference in the end,” he said.
On the 57-yard touchdown strike to start Dartmouth’s scoring, Gerbino rolled to his right off a play-action, hitting sophomore running back Zack Bair, who burst through the left side of the line and found himself uncovered for a big-play touchdown.
“We’re trying to get Gerbino to throw the ball a little bit more effectively this year,” Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens said.
“With a big guy like that, people want to crowd the front and Bair just kind of leaked out of the back end. They chased the cross pattern and there was nobody left.”
Last season, Gerbino was primarily used as a wildcat quarterback but has stepped into a larger role this season. Dartmouth’s offense utilized designed quarterback runs and option plays to gain yards with the 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback.
“They shifted a little bit differently, similar to how they went against Yale last year. We spent a lot of time watching that game,” Priore said. “They run out of an empty backfield with predetermined quarterback runs.”
In addition to his running ability, Gerbino has proven to be a capable passer this season. Last season, the 6-foot-4 quarterback attempted 21 passes. But through three games this season, he’s already thrown 39.
Despite the emphasis on Gerbino’s passing, Dartmouth continues to rotate fellow junior quarterback Derek Kyler into games as well.
Kyler entered the game in the late stages of the second quarter and remained in the game during the beginning of the third quarter.
The junior signal-caller completed 70-percent of his passes (10 attempts) for 31 yards, complementing Gerbino’s game and creating an even more diverse Dartmouth offense.
“Sometimes, it’s about riding with the hot hand,” Teevens said. “Gerbino was playing well for us throwing and running the ball, so we sat and waited.”
“We had a couple of long throws and sometimes you want to get a rhythm going with a couple of short throws to get his [Kyler’s] confidence and we didn’t really establish that.”
“Coming back in the second half, we figured we’d give him more of a shot and he warmed up and did a better job,” Teevens added.
On the other sideline, Penn played their third hard-fought battle in as many weeks, with Friday night’s 13-point differential being the largest margin of the season.
The Quakers opened the regular season with a one-point loss to No. 19 Delaware but defeated Lafayette by four points last week.
On Friday night, Quakers running back Karekin Brooks continued his explosive senior season with 91 rushing yards on 19 attempts and two touchdowns. He also had ten receptions for 42 receiving yards.
Ultimately, Brooks finished the night with 2,295 career rushing yards, ranking him sixth all-time in Penn football history. Additionally, he now has 22 career rushing touchdowns, which is good for eighth all-time.
Staying on the offensive side of the ball, senior quarterback Nick Robinson made his third-straight start of the season.
Robinson had another efficient outing for the Quakers, completing 69-percent of his passes for 209 yards but did not have a touchdown or interception.
Throughout the first three games of the season, the senior quarterback has completed 63-of-91 passes for 672 yards, with five touchdowns and an interception.
“We’ve seen some good play by Nick. He’s managing the offense very well with his ability to escape, which was on display tonight,” said Priore.
“He made some good decisions with the football. It’s important that he threw the ball away, which was great to avoid losses.”
“We were able to spread things out, and we went to the air a little bit more, so we could utilize the quick passing game to slow down their pass rush. We took what they gave us, and it’ll continue to get better,” he explained.
As previously mentioned, Penn has played three closely contested games this season. Dartmouth, however, has won its three matchups by a combined score of 73-9.
In fact, Friday night’s Ivy League opener was the first time that The Big Green experienced pressure at the end of a game.
“Emotionally, being there for the first time is a big thing,” Teevens said. “There were some wide eyes on the sideline and guys who hadn’t been in that environment. We have a lot of young players on both sides of the football.”
In the fourth quarter, Dartmouth engineered a 15-play, 86-yard drive spanning over eight minutes that ended with a Gerbino designed quarterback run for a touchdown.
With that late rushing touchdown, it gave the Big Green their largest lead of the game (28-7) over the Quakers.
“They did a really good job of clock management at the end of the game. They got the score, but we got that quick score back, the onside kick, and a little bit of juice and energy.”
Nevertheless, Penn’s best offensive drive of the night came after Gerbino’s late fourth-quarter rushing touchdown.
Robinson and the offense pushed the ball downfield, going 75 yards in under two minutes. Brooks finished the drive with his second touchdown of the night with a two-yard run.
Following the Brooks’ rushing touchdown, Penn senior punter Drew Brennan hit a bouncing onside kick that went over Dartmouth’s hands’ team and into the hands of senior wide receiver Erick Markes.
After successfully converting the onside kick, the Quakers had the ball with 2:14 seconds left in the game but still trailed by 13 points. However, a sack and tackle for loss proved too costly as Penn fell just short on a fourth-down pass play.
The Quakers will have another home game next Saturday at Franklin Field, this time against non-conference foe Sacred Heart. The Pioneers have a record of 3-2 and are coming off a 28-3 loss to Central Connecticut State.
– Photo courtesy of Penn Football’s Twitter account (@PennFB)