NEW HAVEN, Conn. — It was a beautiful night for football, but it was not a beautiful game of football.
In what could best be described as a total rout, Penn football extended its nine-game conference winning streak on Friday with a 42-7 win over Yale. A national TV audience got to see the first-ever true night game held at the Yale Bowl, but what they witnessed was an entirely one-sided affair.
The Bulldogs (1-5, 1-2 Ivy) shouldn’t have needed to look at too much tape to know what the Quakers (4-2, 3-0 Ivy) were going to throw at them. Namely, that would be junior wide receiver Justin Watson.
It didn’t matter.
In the first half alone, Watson torched Yale for 160 yards and three touchdowns on just nine receptions. He added one catch for six yards in the second half, but the damage was done. The Bulldogs had no answer, and the 35-0 halftime score reflected that fact.
“Christian Pearson has been playing his butt off,” Watson said. “I think they kind of keyed in on him this week, which they should, because he’s a great player. He had two touchdowns last week. I think whoever has the best matchup, we’re gonna go to.”
Junior running back Tre Solomon got the scoring started with a three-yard run after Penn linebacker Matt Henderson recovered a fumble forced by Nick Miller.
If it’s possible to have a quiet 100-yard night, Solomon did just that, recording 120 yards and breaking triple digits on the ground for the third straight game. Should he cross that mark again next week against Brown, he’ll become the first Penn player since 2003 to have five straight 100-yard games.
Watson would score twice on back-to-back drives late in the first quarter and early into the second, while the Elis managed to drive into Penn territory just once in the first half.
Sandwiched between Watson’s second and third scores was a receiving touchdown from senior Cam Countryman, but by the time he and Torgersen connected on a 10-yarder midway through the second quarter, the game was well out of hand.
Torgersen would finish the day tying a career-best four touchdowns — and on Watson’s final score he became just the second player in program history to surpass 6,000 career passing yards.
In the first half, the Quakers allowed just 101 total yards, while forcing three punts, a turnover on downs, a fumble and an interception by sophomore Sam Philippi.
Yet halftime provided no respite for the hosts. After Yale turned the ball over on downs, the Quakers drove swiftly down the field before freshman running back Karekin Brooks scored on a 12-yard pitch to the right side for his first career score.
When the passing attack yielded little success, Yale remained committed to the running game, rushing 40 times for 136 yards while only managing to net 93 yards through the air.
On the flip side, the Red and Blue logged 508 yards of offense, eclipsing 500 yards for the first time since their 2011 matchup with the Bulldogs.
“I think we have a great balance right now,” coach Ray Priore said. “Offense is clicking, defense is clicking, we’re playing really good team football.”
If Penn’s offense overshadowed the defense on Friday, it was because of how effortlessly the defense — led by Miller’s 11 tackles and a forced fumble — controlled the game up front.
After both teams went through the motions in the final 30 minutes, the game came to a merciful end as Penn sealed its largest conference victory since last year’s 42-7 win over Columbia.
“These short weeks, they take a toll on you, and they take a toll on the coaching staff, basically living in the office trying to put together a game plan,” Torgersen said. “I think it’s beneficial to us. It keeps us focused on the task at hand.”
While the Quakers shined on short rest, they’ll get a little extra break now before Homecoming next weekend. They’ll also get the chance to sit back and relax as the only other undefeated teams in conference play — Harvard and Princeton — duke it out on Saturday.
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