Penn football trails Harvard, 13-10, after the first 30 minutes of play, with defense and special teams being key so far.
Harvard (4-4, 2-3 Ivy) enters the locker room with some momentum, after senior kicker Jake McIntyre knocked in a career-high 42-yard field goal with 42 seconds left to take the three-point lead. The attempt was set up by a blocked punt and return to the Penn 25-yard line, which was the Crimson’s seventh blocked punt of the season.
The beginning of the contest went about as well as Penn (4-4, 2-3) could have hoped. After a Crimson three-and-out on the game’s first drive, Penn senior safety and punt returner Sam Philippi picked up the short punt, which bounced off another Quaker’s helmet, and returned it to the Harvard 40-yard line.
The Penn offense took advantage of the short field and found the end zone less than two minutes later. A 23-yard slip screen to running back Karekin Brooks set up senior quarterback Nick Robinson’s three-yard draw, which found paydirt to give Penn the early advantage.
The Crimson then muffed a punt on their next drive, giving the Red and Blue even better field position at the 28-yard line. However, Harvard’s defense came up with a third and goal stop, forcing Penn to attempt a 28-yard field goal. Sophomore kicker Daniel Karrash pushed his kick right, and the Crimson escaped the possession without allowing anymore damage.
Harvard finally got the offense rolling at the end of the first quarter, as junior quarterback Jake Smith found junior wideout BJ Watson on a 47-yard bomb down the right sideline.
After a stalled drive by each side, a roughing the kicker penalty on Harvard gave Penn an opportunity to cash in. Robinson found sophomore wide receiver Ryan Cragun at the Harvard six-yard line for his first reception of the day. The Red and Blue were again unable to punch it in the end zone, but Karrash converted on his 24-yard opportunity to take the 10-7 lead.
A McIntyre chip shot, which was set up by a Robinson interception near midfield, tied the game once again, this time at 10.
Harvard’s blocked punt came with just under two minutes left, and the field goal gave the Crimson the three-point advantage heading into the break.