Despite a difficult start to the season, the Quakers showed that they're still ready to compete.
Penn football defeated Brown by a score of 38-36 on Saturday afternoon at Franklin Field. Sophomore kicker Daniel Karrash drilled a game-winning field goal to give the Red and Blue the win.
After losing their first three Ivy League games, the Quakers (3-4, 1-3 Ivy) picked up their first conference victory, while the Bears (1-6, 0-4) remain winless in the Ancient Eight.
“The person who had the ball last was going to win, and we had the ball last,” coach Ray Priore said.
Penn started off the game with a few promising drives, but they all eventually fizzled out, resulting in four Penn punts to begin the game.
In the second quarter, the Quakers turned their offense around, as senior running back Abe Willows capped off a seven-play, 69-yard drive with a one-yard dive into the end zone to begin the second. Willows later scored again after Penn forced a Brown fumble.
The Red and Blue completed the second-quarter touchdown trifecta when sophomore wide receiver Ryan Cragun ran in a Nick Robinson pass for 24 yards. Cragun had a stellar game, finishing with 11 receptions for 144 yards and the aforementioned score.
Star senior running back Karekin Brooks did not play for the Quakers on Saturday afternoon because of an injury, although he was suited up and watching from the sideline.
"He had a couple of injuries coming out of the game last week, and he really tried to go this weekend," Priore said. "We just didn't think in the long term it would be a good decision to put him out there. I'm hoping this week he'll be back to full force."
In Brooks’ absence, Willows stepped up, finishing with 16 carries for 63 yards and two touchdowns.
“It is great to have him step it up and run the ball very, very successfully," Priore said. "When he has his moment and his opportunity, that’s two weeks in a row that he’s come up real big."
To begin the second half, Penn used its defense to create offense. Junior linebacker Brian O’Neill intercepted a pass in Brown’s territory on the Bears’ first drive of the second half, which gave Robinson and the Penn offense a great chance to score.
“I was just reading the quarterback’s eyes, and as soon as he extended his arm to throw, I just broke on the ball,” O’Neill said.
Robinson took advantage of the opportunity by finding sophomore wide receiver Rory Starkey for an 11-yard pass in the end zone. On the next drive, senior linebacker Hunter Hayes forced a Brown fumble and O’Neill ran it back for six to give the Quakers a 16-point lead.
However, the deficit was not an insurmountable one for the Bears, who came back with 17 unanswered points. In the fourth quarter, Perry completed a hat trick, running for his third touchdown — this one from 16 yards out — to give the Bears a one-point lead.
Robinson was subsequently intercepted on a pass intended for Cragun, and Brown then took valuable time off of the clock before the Quakers forced a turnover on downs.
Penn got the ball back, down one, on its own 20-yard line with 4:10 left to play. Robinson more than made up for his interception by leading the Quakers down the field into field goal range.
After Robinson completed a 21-yard pass to Cragun with the game on the line, the Quakers drove the ball all the way to the Brown six-yard line to set up a potential game-winning field goal attempt by Karrash. In a big moment for Karrash, who was kicking in only his second career game, he drilled his first collegiate field goal down the middle to give Penn the lead with two seconds remaining.
After the kick, Penn players rushed the field to celebrate as the clock hit zero, but a correction revealed that there were still two seconds left in the contest. In a last-gasp effort, Brown attempted a pass, but it was intercepted again by O’Neill to seal the Penn victory.
“That’s the best feeling in the world, with all of the work you put in going in to that kick. I feel like everybody puts in too much work for me to miss that,” Karrash said.