With Penn's leading rusher Lyle Marsh out for the year and starting quarterback Keiffer Garton questionable because of off-season knee surgery, the Quakers' eight-game winning streak over Ivy League opponents could be tested Saturday in the opener against visiting Dartmouth.
"We'll have our hands full," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "The combination of injuries, kids banged up, and a much-improved Dartmouth team, I think, has really got the coaches' attention to everything."
The Big Green (2-0) have not won at Penn in 13 years, and the Quakers (1-1) have won five straight at home.
Last week, Dartmouth freshman tailback Dominick Pierre ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns in a come-from-behind 21-19 win over Sacred Heart, earning him Ivy League co-rookie of the week honors. The previous week, the Big Green won at Bucknell, 43-20.
Marsh, a sophomore, suffered a compound fracture in last week's 22-10 loss at top-ranked Villanova and will miss the remainder of the season with a broken forearm. Garton, who has yet to play this season, has practiced all week and will be a game-time decision.
"He's pretty close to being ready," said Bagnoli, who will start sophomore Bill Ragone.
In two games this season, Ragone has thrown for one touchdown, coming in a win against Lafayette. In that game, he completed 4 of 5 passes for 23 yards with no interceptions. Last week, he threw for 147 yards, connecting on 11 of 22 passes, with one interception. Ragone also had 59 rushing yards on 15 carries.
"It [was] a game that could really test you," Bagnoli said of last week's tough loss. "From that perspective, it was a positive outing for us."
With a win, Bagnoli (123-57) would tie George Woodruff (124-15-2) for most wins at Penn. Woodruff, who coached the Quakers from 1892 to 1901, won the national championship going undefeated in 1894, 1895, and 1897. The 1896 team went 14-1, losing only to Lafayette, 6-4.
Entering his 19th season at Penn, Bagnoli is the longest-tenured coach in the program's 133-year history. He has won seven outright Ivy championships.
Contact staff writer Mario Aguirre at 215-854-4550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.