For Penn football and Yale, it’s win or go home as both teams seek to avoid a fatal second Ivy League loss. And a lot will need to go right for the Red and Blue in the final 30 minutes if the Quakers are to stay alive in the Ancient Eight title race.
Under the Friday night lights on Franklin Field, Penn has been outplayed from the start in almost every facet of the game, trailing 21-3 at the half. Though the Quakers held Yale to 59 yards of offense in the second quarter, they have not been able to recover from giving up touchdowns on each of the Elis’ first two offensive possessions, putting the Red and Blue in a major hole from the get-go.
Penn (4-1, 1-1 Ivy) 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 hasn’t missed a beat with junior Alan Lamar in his place.
On the first play of scrimmage for Yale (3-2, 1-1), Lamar took a handoff for 47 yards, and that was a sign of things to come. Lamar’s stats in the opening 15 minutes resembled what most running backs would be happy with over the course of a full game: 116 rushing yards, one touchdown, and two runs of more than 40 yards.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Penn’s vaunted rushing offense has been held in check from the start. Averaging 215.0 rushing yards per game entering Friday night, Penn has only secured three rushing yards on 14 carries, with its longest run being only nine yards.
Though the Quakers did get a field goal on their opening drive, boosted by this by junior running back Karekin Brooks, the team hasn’t sniffed the end zone since. As such, though Penn’s defense held Yale scoreless in the second quarter until its final minute, the team has made no progress chipping at the deficit.
Since no Ivy League champion has lost twice in league play since 1982, this contest appears to more or less be an elimination contest for both schools involved. And if Penn can’t turn things around drastically in the final 30 minutes, it will likely be looking at its second straight year without any Ancient Eight jewelry.