It was an ugly, messy game on a soggy, dreary day. But when the 60 minutes were up, the Quakers got what they wanted.
With rain pouring down and the field a muddy swamp, Penn football took down Brown 13-7 in Providence, R.I. The nor’easter had a huge effect on the game, causing both offenses to be both literally and figuratively stuck in the mud.
The field conditions and the weather impacted the game from the first play from scrimmage, as Brown (1-6, 0-4 Ivy) quarterback Livingstone Harriot dropped the opening snap and had to scramble just to throw the ball away.
On Penn’s first offensive play, a wet ball popped right out of junior running back Karekin Brooks’ hands and into the hands of Brown defensive end Ryan Putman. In the second quarter, junior running back Abe Willows had a similar problem, dropping the ball on a third and goal, which Brown recovered as well.
Brown’s offense was especially susceptible to the poor field conditions. The Bears had absolutely no momentum all game, and struggled mightily to move the ball. Brown did not pick up a first down until nearly four minutes into the second quarter and totaled just 195 yards from scrimmage, much of which came at the very end of the game.
“The defense, I thought they rose and made a lot of really big stops. A lot of really big plays, big interceptions, got the ball back for the offense,” coach Ray Priore said.
As for the Quakers (5-2, 2-2), Brooks bounced back from the fumble to power the offense, nearly breaking the program’s single-game rushing record. He broke off three separate runs of 30 yards or more, and was able to find separation time and time again. He tallied 246 rushing yards, including 170 in the first half, in a performance reminiscent of last year’s 268-yard day against Lehigh.
“It was just great to watch him with his poise after [the fumble]," Priore said. "I think that’s you talk about it as coaches all of the time… it’s on to the next play. And what do we do with the next play that’s front of us. And honestly he took advantage of that, I think the next series he broke off a big run, moved the sticks, and was able to recover.”
For the first time all season, both quarterbacks — sophomore Ryan Glover and junior Nick Robinson — saw significant playing time. Glover started both halves and finished the fourth quarter, while Robinson took over near the end of the first and middle of the fourth.
Of the two signal callers, Robinson had more success statistically. In the second quarter, he led a methodical drive, converting several third downs with both his arm and his legs, and capped it with an 11-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Steve Farrell to stretch the lead to 10-0. That touchdown was Robinson’s first on the year.
Robinson was on the field for 10 of the Quakers’ 13 points. He finished the day with 46 passing yards on six of seven passes and added 25 yards on the ground.
“I think what that allows us to do is, no matter who the quarterback is, we have a good person behind," Priore said about running with two quarterbacks. "I really liked how Nick responded when he came on in, that was really good to see in a close game.”
Neither team was able to put points on the board in the second half until the very end, as the game devolved into a classic rainy football game. The half saw three turnovers, a blocked field goal, and 8 punts, as the slippery conditions prevented either team from establishing any sort of rhythm.
Brown didn’t go down without a fight, though. Down 13 with 1:21 left in the game, the Bears marched down the field in just 54 seconds to put points on the board. But the ensuing onside kick was corralled by Farrell, and the Quakers kneeled to run out the clock.
Now back in the win column in Ivy play, the Quakers can shift focus to next week’s Friday night showdown at Cornell. While the Quakers are still mathematically in contention for the Ivy title, they need several things to break their way.
But out of this mess of a game, Penn now has a little hope.