Preseason rankings, however, gave no hint that drinking in private and bulging muscles would help the Quakers, who didn't have any star recruits in the pipeline. Penthouse, for instance, rated Penn as the third-worst team in the nation, behind Northwestern and Colorado, and noted that the Quakers' program was "like a thoroughbred with four shattered legs: destroying it would be an act of kindness." Penn nonetheless opened the season by beating Dartmouth 21-0 in Hanover, for its first win on the road in 24 games. The Quakers next got revenge against Lehigh, winning 20-17. Columbia fell 51-31, and Brown succumbed 24-21, Penn stopping the Bruins on the four with 11 seconds to play.
After a 35-20 loss to Lafayette, the Quakers took on Yale before 32,175 in Franklin Field and beat the Elis 27-14 on an 83-yard run by Tailback Steve Flacco and two interceptions by sophomore Tim Chambers, a 5'10" defensive back. As his team left the field, Berndt says he felt an electricity. "I looked up in the stands, and it was as if nobody wanted to leave," he says. After a short discussion, Berndt and his players returned to the field for a curtain call.
Penn lost to Princeton 17-14 on a 42-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining, but then bounced back for a 21-13 win over Colgate, which hadn't lost to a I-AA team in 15 games.
On Saturday, Penn manhandled Harvard and led 20-0 in the fourth quarter, when the Crimson exploded for three touchdowns in less than 7� minutes to take a 21-20 lead with 1:28 left. At that point Berndt reminded his offense that it needed only a field goal to win and that 15 yards a play would set it up for Shulman. On first down from his own 20, Vura scrambled for one yard. On second he was sacked. On third he hit Wide Receiver Rich Syrec for 18 yards, but after he released the ball he was met by Harvard's Louis Varsames, who plays a position called Adjuster in the Crimson defense. "He ate my lunch," said Vura. "He rearranged my face a little—my jaw felt like it had fallen off." Backup Quarterback Fred Rafeedie, who had thrown three passes all year, went in and tossed the ball out of bounds, and Vura returned with 24 seconds to go.
On the next play, a freakish deflection bounced from one Penn receiver to another and moved the ball to the Harvard 48 with 17 seconds left. Vura passed to Warren Buehler on the left sideline for 16 yards and then to Flacco in the right flat for 11. Flacco got out of bounds with :03 showing on the clock.
And then came Shulman's two kicks, and after the second one the metal goalposts were pulled down. Penn was a champion at last, or a co-champion at the least. "It's nice," said Flacco. "People say hi to you now. Before they were laughing behind your back."
Oh, yes. The Penn athletic department is working on plans to market dolls of Benjamin Franklin holding a football.