PROVIDENCE, R.I., — The Penn football team did not score a single point on Saturday. The last time that happened, Bill Clinton was at the beginning of his second term as president, and the U.S. economy was booming.
As the Quakers put up a goose egg, Brown found a way to put at least some points on the board and defend its home turf, prevailing, 6-0.
With steady rain falling for the duration of the game, field conditions at Brown Stadium went from poor to awful and contributed to the lack of offensive production for both teams.
“They did a much better job of handling the weather and the field than we did,” said coach Al Bagnoli, who refused to excuse his team’s performance given the weather.
To Brown coach Phil Estes, “It was a wet, muddy, miserable day, and we enjoyed every minute of it.”
The loss ends Penn’s well-publicized Ivy unbeaten streak at 18 games, just two short of tying the record of 20, which is held by the 2001-04 Quakers.
“Eventually it was going to have to end,” Bagnoli said. “You’ve got to be proud of our team and proud of the program. These things aren’t easy.”
“I think that streak is one for the record books, to be honest with you,” the coach added.
Brown kicker Alex Norocea scored the game’s only points in impressive fashion given the circumstances, making field goals of 39 and then 42 yards.
Penn (4-3, 3-1 Ivy) had a chance to go ahead, 3-0, in the first half off a special teams turnover, but freshman kicker Connor Loftus couldn’t convert from 28 yards out. The Quakers would not get close to lighting up the scoreboard for the rest of the game.
Junior quarterback Billy Ragone could never quite get the Quakers’ offense jump-started. Just a week after accounting for 330 yards and four touchdowns, Ragone threw three interceptions and managed only 32 yards through the air.
Even so, on the Quakers’ final drive, it looked as if his fourth-quarter heroics might again carry Penn to victory.
The offense took over possession at their own 47 with 2:29 to go, but on the first play, Ragone threw his final interception of the game, effectively icing the win for the Bears.
Ragone was quick to shoulder blame for the loss.
“It starts with me,” he said. “You can’t turn the ball over as much as I did today.”
After being held to two field goals, Brown (6-1, 3-1) still has not scored an offensive touchdown against the Quakers since 2008.
“When you hold a team to no touchdowns, you usually think you’ll win the game but in this situation, their defense didn’t give up any points,” senior linebacker Erik Rask said.
Rask picked off Brown senior quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero for Penn’s lone defensive takeaway of the game.
By contrast, Penn turned the ball over five times.
Disappointment — and history — aside, the team remains in contention for its ultimate goal, an Ivy title.
If the Quakers can win out, they will clinch at least a share of the league crown and remain atop their throne for a third-consecutive term — something not even Clinton could do.