NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Football is a game of inches, and the Quakers learned that the hard way on Saturday.
Penn fell to Yale by a score of 46-41 on Saturday afternoon at the Yale Bowl. Looking to improve from last week’s poor performance against Columbia, the Quaker defense was beat on several deep throws throughout the game and ultimately surrendered seven touchdowns.
In a game that Penn (2-4, 0-3 Ivy) led at start of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1) ultimately pulled away and emerged victorious from the high-scoring Ivy League affair.
“This was one of those shootouts. I’m not sure that either of the defensive staffs — when they watch the game tomorrow — will be happy,” coach Ray Priore said. “The key [was] the touchdown before the half — we [needed to] keep them to a field goal attempt — and the turnover in the middle of the third quarter.”
After the two teams traded punts to begin the game, Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings was able to get the offense flowing. Rawlings completed a couple of quick passes before launching a deeper throw to receiver JP Shohfi, who reeled the ball in for a 30-yard gain. Rawlings subsequently completed a 19-yard pass along the left sideline before proceeding to run the ball into the end zone himself to give Yale the first lead of the game.
On their next possession, the Red and Blue slowly marched down the field and eventually found themselves in the red zone. Facing a third-and-goal from the one-yard line, Robinson threw across his body on a play-action fake to find junior tight end Sire Woods for a touchdown to cap a 14-play, 78-yard drive.
After the teams again traded punts, Rawlings scored again, this time on a 37-yard rush, to put Yale in the lead by just six after the extra point was blocked.
Yale then drove 75 yards in just 56 seconds to take the lead before the half. In a career day for the Yale quarterback, Rawlings completed all three of his passes on the drive to become the Yale all-time leader in touchdown passes. He would later take the Yale record for total offense.
Coming out of the locker room at halftime, the Quakers started the second half with a couple of highlight-reel plays, including a broken tackle by sophomore wide receiver Ryan Cragun. Robinson found fellow sophomore wideout Rory Starkey in the end zone on a seven-yard fade.
Their offensive success continued throughout the second half, as the scored 28 points in the final two quarters.
"I thought we moved the ball consistently; we scored," Robinson said. "That's an improvement [from last week], but at the end of the day you want to win."
Several players on offense stood out Saturday afternoon. Cragun continued to shine in his breakout season with 13 receptions for 205 yards, while Robinson amassed 395 yards passing and three scores against one interception.
That interception proved to be costly. The resulting short field allowed the Elis to take a two-possession lead that Penn never overcame.
“[Robinson] has got to go through the full read,” Priore said. “We got a bad read on it and the backside safety did a really good job of stealing it. He came out of nowhere.”
Meanwhile, running back Abe Willows had an impressive game, totaling 63 rushing yards and a trio of touchdowns. Prior to this game, the senior had only 28 yards on the season.
However, Penn’s offensive fireworks were matched by Yale's retorts. The Red and Blue defense gave up more than 40 points for the second consecutive week.
“The most important thing [on defense] is to get pressure, and the quarterback was sitting in the pocket for a very long time, letting his receivers get downfield. We honestly have to do a better job getting after the quarterback, and that’s on us,” senior defensive lineman Prince Emili said.
With the loss, Penn falls to 0-3 in Ivy League play after winning two of their first three nonconference contests.
The Quakers will return home and begin preparing to face Brown next Saturday at Franklin Field.