Everything was right about the setting. The beautiful Franklin Field venue under the Friday Night Lights. The national attention coming from ESPNU’s television coverage. The must-win mentality for two teams entering with an Ivy League loss already in hand.
But once the opening kickoff came for Penn football against Yale, almost everything that could go wrong did for the Red and Blue.
Outplayed in almost every facet of the game from start to finish, the Quakers took their second Ancient Eight loss of the year, falling 23-10 to Yale on Friday night. The Red and Blue (4-2, 1-2 Ivy) gave up touchdowns on both of Yale’s first two offensive drives and trailed by double digits the rest of the way.
“I’m disappointed, obviously disappointed with the outcome. Our kids came out battling, but early on we just had a couple of big plays allowed and critical third downs that really hurt us,” coach Ray Priore said. “You play against good football teams, you can’t make those mistakes during the course of a game.”
Despite the game’s final margin, it wasn’t truly over until the very end. With Penn taking possession with 3:43 left at its own one-yard line down by 13, sophomore quarterback Ryan Glover found senior wideout Steve Farrell on a 87-yard bomb down the middle of the field, putting Penn in scoring position.
But Yale (4-2, 2-1) buckled down from there, sacking Glover on third and 10 from the Yale 12. Glover threw incomplete on fourth and 17, and Penn’s glimmer of hope was gone almost as quickly as it came.
“I applaud our kids’ effort and saw some energy coming on the sidelines. Really thought we could get this win,” Priore said. “But we could never put together that finishing drive.”
At the start of the contest, Penn appeared to catch a major break when reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year and running back Zane Dudek was not healthy enough to suit up. But the Bulldogs’ offense didn’t miss a beat with junior Alan Lamar in his place.
On the first play of scrimmage for Yale, Lamar took a handoff for 47 yards — a sign of things to come. Lamar gashed the Quakers all night long, totaling 179 rushing yards and two scores, including 116 yards in the first quarter alone.
Altogether, Yale's offense finished with 440 total yards on the day.
On the other side of the ball, Penn’s vaunted rushing offense was held in check from the start. Averaging 215.0 rushing yards per game entering Friday night, Penn only secured 14 rushing yards on 26 attempts. Star junior running back Karekin Brooks was held to a mere two rushing yards.
Even when things did briefly go right for the Quakers, it seemed that fate was not on their side. Leading 21-3 midway through the third quarter, Yale had the ball inside the Quakers’ one-yard line on a fourth down, but Lamar fumbled just before crossing the goal line to give Penn some life.
“100 percent; I definitely thought we were on our way to victory at that point,” senior linebacker Nick Miller said. “It was a big stop for us on defense, and we were ready to go.”
From there, Glover and Farrell led what was by far Penn’s best drive of the game, and likely the season as well. Glover completed five different passes for first downs before finding Farrell on a perfect fade route in the corner of the end zone, cutting the score to 21-10.
Penn forced a punt on Yale’s next drive, making Franklin Field as loud as it had been all night. But just as soon as the Red and Blue seized momentum, their hopes of a comeback dissolved.
The Quakers’ next play involved a slightly wide snap that Glover couldn’t catch. Penn fell on it for a Yale safety, and neither team would score a single point the rest of the way.
“That’s the ebbs and flows of the game. If you don’t get the safety, we don’t know what ends up happening,” Priore said.
Despite the result, the box score did show some good signs for Penn. Glover’s total of 274 passing yards was a career high, and most of them went to Farrell, whose 173 receiving yards represented his own lifetime best.
But those numbers were all for naught, as the Quakers now fall below .500 in Ivy play. No team has won an Ivy title with two losses since 1982, and with Princeton and Dartmouth both unbeaten, it seems that this year will be no exception.
As a result, barring a miracle, Penn is looking at its second straight year without any Ancient Eight jewelry.
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