Don’t be mistaken, Yale controlled this game from the opening snap.
As soon as Bulldogs' running back Alan Lamar ripped off a 47-yarder to start the game, the Red and Blue were in trouble. Big plays from the Elis doomed the Quakers all night.
But despite being outplayed for nearly three quarters, the Quakers looked like they were ready for a rally following a Yale punt which left the Red and Blue on their own 9 yard line. On the very next play, a high snap over the head of quarterback Ryan Glover led to a safety and ended any hopes of a comeback.
When it’s all said and done, that could be the biggest missed opportunity, and the biggest turning point, of the season.
It could go down as the drive that eliminated the Red and Blue from Ivy title contention. If Penn had driven the ball down and scored to make it 21-17, it would have been a different game. At that point, it would have been hard to bet against the Quakers. Playing at home against a backup quarterback with all the momentum on their side, the potential comeback was all but scripted.
But the opportunity, like the snap, went right over their heads.
The Red and Blue could have been traveling to Brown next week just one upset away from being back in a tie for first place in the Ivy League standings. Back in the title race where they belong.
The safety was not the sole reason the Quakers lost this game. You can point to defense — Yale racked up 440 yards of total offense and dominated the time of possession. You can point to offense — Glover threw for 274 (87 of which came on one play) but the Quakers as a team only rushed for 14 yards on 26 carries. They even finished 5-15 on third down.
However, there are plenty of reasons why Yale should not have won this game either. The Elis came out on top because the Quakers missed the opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Championship teams find ways to win those types of games.
The chances of another Ancient Eight crown was low but not out of the question for the Quakers after dropping the Ivy opener to Dartmouth. Now with two losses, those chances are fading. No team has won an Ivy title with two losses since 1982.
If the Quakers were not so depleted by key injuries on defense, they might not be in this position in the first place. The problem now is that the two teams at the top, Dartmouth and Princeton, don’t look like they are coming back down to Earth any time soon. And even if they did, they wouldn't fall close to far enough for the Red and Blue to have a chance.
The Red and Blue should be able to take care of Brown and Cornell in the upcoming weeks before taking on Harvard and Princeton to close out the season.
But instead of being in the position of playing those games to win the league, they will be trying to play spoiler after failing to capitalize tonight.
The Red and Blue could be left to finish out the season wondering what could have been. And it all hinged on that one snap.