Penn football demolished by Brown, 27-0
Quakers were dominated on both sides of the ball, squander key game
November 2, 2013, 3:37 pm·
Yuzhong Qian | DP
PROVIDENCE, R.I — It was supposed to be a perfect narrative for Penn football.
Undefeated in the Ivy League and heading into a battle for first place with Princeton on Homecoming Nov. 9 — the centerpiece of a Penn Athletics bonanza — playing Brown was supposed to be an afterthought.
It took exactly one play for the Bears to shatter everything.
Bears running back John Spooney ran for a 93-yard touchdown on the first offensive snap on the game and tacked on a 94-yard score later in the first half to set the tone for a game in which the Quakers (4-3, 3-1 Ivy) were absolutely manhandled on both sides of the ball and fell, 27-0.
Brown’s (5-2, 2-2) fans had barely settled into their seats when Spooney, back in action after missing time with a leg injury and a concussion, got them standing up immediately after he streaked down the sideline for a stunning score after finding no room up the middle.
“I saw a hole [up the middle], it just closed really fast,” Spooney said. “And with that closing up really fast, I had to look for other options and [the outside] was open.”
Early in the second quarter, with the Bears already up 14-0 after a five-yard pass from Pat Donnelly to Andrew Marks wrapped up a textbook 71-yard drive, Spooney burned the Quakers again.
This time, though, there was no need for any shifty moves, as his raw speed was more than enough to elude Penn defensive back Kenny Thomas as he burst through the middle untouched to tally the second-longest run in Brown history.
“The way [Spooney] rips off runs, he scares me a little bit,” Brown coach Phil Estes said. “The referees were out of breath and asked if we could slow him down a little bit.”
While Penn’s defense was huffing and puffing in pursuit of Spooney — who finished with 236 rushing yards on only 16 carries — the Red and Blue’s offense struggled to recover after taking shot after shot from the Bears’ defense.
Starting for the injured Billy Ragone for the second week in a row, quarterback Ryan Becker suffered a miserable day at the hands of Brown’s pass rush, which leads the Ancient Eight in sacks.
Becker had no time to throw all day, getting sacked four times — it felt like at least double that — and threw a trio of interceptions, including one inside the Bears’ 10-yard line.
“We knew that they were going to [bring] pressure a lot,” he said. “We gameplanned it, we knew it was going to come. It was nothing different than what we had expected.”
Even Penn’s lone successful sustained drive of the day ended in disaster.
After working its way down to Brown’s one-yard line for a fourth-and-goal with 75 seconds left in the first half, Penn coach Al Bagnoli called for Becker to run an option, which ended in disaster after the signal-caller was stuffed at the two before he could even think about pitching the ball.
“They got penetration and they made a good play,” Bagnoli said. “There was nothing wrong with the call, they did a better job of playing defense than we did of playing offense.”
The Bears made Bagnoli pay for his decision dearly, using a 67-yard catch and run by senior wide receiver Tellef Lundevall to set up a field goal that sent the Quakers to a 24-0 halftime deficit they couldn’t recover from.
“We got thoroughly dominated,” Bagnoli said. “We got out-coached, we got out-played, we got out-hustled, we got out-everythinged.”
Combined with Princeton’s victory over Cornell, the Quakers now sit a game out of first in the Ivy League with a matchup against Harvard in Cambridge still looming.
But Penn won’t be looking that far ahead. Not after getting shut out again in a stadium where they haven’t scored a point since 2009.
“If we play with the same effort we did today and we play with lack of execution, then we’ve got the exact same thing [that’ll] happen next week. I’ll tell you that right now,” Bagnoli said. “Our choices are to wallow in this and get beat, 28-0, or our choices are to come out, have a great week of practice, and let’s see if we can correct things and get out program back on track where it belongs.”
Now next Saturday has a new narrative: Win. Or surrender the Ivy crown.