Penn Falls 30 – 26 to Brown
October 27. 2023 –
The University of Pennsylvania Quakers and the Bears of Brown played under Friday night lights at Franklin Field. Both teams came into the game with a 2 – 1 record in the Ancient Eight. One thing for sure was someone’s 2 – 1 will be gone.
Going into league play there are five teams tied for the top spot at 2 – 1. Penn got there by defeating defending league champion Yale last week. So, from here on in there can be no stumbles on the way to the title. Last season the Quakers fell to the Bears that ended a six game winning streak and created a roadblock to a championship.
Brown wins it 30 – 26, but this was no stumble. It was the two best offenses in the league going back and forth. In the end turnovers would be the deciding factor as Penn quarterback Aidan Sayin had three picked off. The last one was in the end zone in what could have been the game winner for the Red and Blue.
“The number that always strikes is the turnover battle,” said Penn Coach Ray Priore. “We had three turnovers and they didn’t have any.”
“It’s just that you give the opponent another opportunity, that turnover is another opportunity. They slit the guy in for those picks. They were good plays by them.”
The Bears played ahead for most of the game. When the Quakers trailed, they were not far behind. Going into the fourth quarter the visitors lead 30 – 17. The Red and Blue defense started to get stops. With 12:10 remaining Penn got to within a score when Sayin found Jared Richardson for a 13-yard touchdown pass that capped an 80-yard drive. It was similar to the late score in the first half that got the Red and Blue to within 20 – 17, a 27-yard scoring toss to Alex Haight. Those points gave the Quakers a needed lift.
“It showed we had some grit and determination to make plays,” Richardson said. “They just help everybody’s energy level. So that was a big play. And if we actually do a little bit better, we’ll all be better off.”
Defensive Adjustments for Penn
Brown gained 354 of their 360 yards in the first three quarters. They did so with sweeps, quick passes, and misdirection en route to their lead. for the game Bears quarterback Jake Willcox completed 26 of 37 passes for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. He did not throw an interception. On the ground the visitors gained 110 yards, and got two scores rushing. They would punt one time in the first half.
In the fourth quarter Brown gained just 6 yards having the ball for over 6 minutes. The Penn defense was been playing well at the end of games, and gave the team an opportunity to win. They adjusted to the pace of play.
“Early it seemed like everything they were doing was working,” said Penn linebacker Jack Fairman who had 9 tackles. “When we stopped one thing, they went to another. That fourth quarter was when we really stepped it up. We’re really proud of that fourth quarter, every single drive we got a stop when we needed to.”
Early in the game the Bears were driving and could have taken full control. A big key was the Quakers defense held and gave up two field goals of 40 and 30 yards rather than touchdowns.
“A huge, huge, huge part,” Priore said about the impact of giving up three points instead of seven. “Bend but don’t break. Those three points they were getting there was fine. A huge one was before they half. We kept them to a field goal. We get two touchdowns, we win. That was a bigger part of the game that helped us along with the defensive surge later on.”
What the Numbers Said
Richardson followed up on his 17 reception 191 yard performance at Yale with 12 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. His longest catch and run went for 39 yards.
“I would say it is the scheme,” Richardson said about what was making him so effective recently. “We have athletes all over the field. Just to get the ball in our hands, that’s really been helpful for us.”
Haight caught 7 passes for a season-high 89 yards, 49 after the grab.
Sayin threw for 322 yards completing 32 of 55 passes. He ran for a season-best 36 yards that got Penn back into the game late in the second quarter. But he will remember those three that were caught by Brown defensive backs, especially the one by corner back Isaiah Reed for a touchback as one minute showed on the clock.
Quakers defensive end Jack Iuliano led the game in tackles with 12, and defensive tackle Joey Slackman turned in 11 stops.
Shake Up at the Top of the Standings
Brown improves to 3 – 1 and will stay in the top position with other teams depending on the Saturday results. Penn is 2 – 2. The next game is at home against Cornell on November 4th. How jumbled with the standings be at that time, who knows?
“We learned last year, this league is crazy,” Priore said. “We went into that last game with a lot of craziness in terms of the schedule. So this one will take a little extra time to really focus on what we need to improve upon.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian