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Penn prevails against Harvard, moves closer to share of Ivy title

THE PENN OFFENSE and quarterback Alek Torgersen slogged through 56-plus minutes of Friday night's key battle between the Quakers and Harvard.

THE PENN OFFENSE and quarterback Alek Torgersen slogged through 56-plus minutes of Friday night's key battle between the Quakers and Harvard.

And then Torgersen, a senior, in his final drive at Franklin Field, kept Penn's Ivy title hopes alive, ushering a 10-play, 80-yard drive in three minutes, eight seconds capped off with a 2-yard strike to Justin Watson with 15 seconds left to help lift Penn to a 27-14 win.

The touchdown throw was Torgersen's 51st as a Quaker, setting a new school record.

"We knew what we needed to do." Torgersen said. "No one wavered. Everyone was confident."

With Harvard needing to go nearly the length of the field with 5 seconds left, a failed hook-and-ladder play resulted in a Taylor Hendrickson fumble return for a touchdown for the game's final score.

Torgersen and Penn (6-3, 5-1 Ivy), miraculously, are still alive in the Ivy League after beating previously unbeaten Harvard (7-2, 5-1), and are set up to share the title once again.

The likeliest scenario now is Penn, Harvard and Princeton tying for the league championship. The Quakers and Crimson were part of a three-way tie last year with Dartmouth. Princeton is likely to beat Yale Saturday to stay with one loss and all three teams have winnable games next weekend, with Penn playing at Cornell.

Down, 14-6, Harvard quarterback Joe Viviano connected on a 26-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Foster with 3:23 left in the game after picking up a first down on a fourth-down play. The Crimson then converted the two-point conversion to even the score.

The Quakers held a 7-3 lead at halftime after Louis Vecchio's 40-yard interception return midway through the second quarter. Vecchio had three sacks and a forced fumble to go along with the turnover.

Torgersen hit Christian Pearson with a 47-yard touchdown pass on the Quakers' first possession of the second half to give Penn a 14-3 lead.

Pearson's touchdown broke a streak of eight consecutive quarters without an offensive touchdown.

The game was played under tense conditions on the University City campus.

Earlier in the day, a group of black Penn students were added to a GroupMe messaging group filled with hateful, racial messages. Penn, as expected, has been a popular place of protest over the last week since president-elect Donald Trump is a 1968 graduate of the Wharton School.

Outside the brick walls of Franklin Field, a peaceful, Black Lives Matter protest kept entrance gates closed to students during much of the first half. Throughout the day, members of the Penn community issued statements of support. Right before kickoff the Penn band said in a statement: "We need to support each other as a community, now more than ever."

Hours later, the band played the school's alma mater after the win, with the hope of brighter days on and off the field.