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Quakers' defense keeps Bears away for a 14-7 win

Before this Saturday, no one on Penn's football roster had ever won an overtime game in college. They dropped three straight in 2006 and had lost three since. An overtime field goal hit the upright against Yale in 2006. The next week that year, a field goal missed versus Brown. An extra point missed against Princeton.

"We had had enough," Penn linebacker and captain Jake Lewko said. "To hell with the old history of bad breaks — bad snaps, missed kicks, interceptions, all those. It's over with."

Penn ended its hard-luck streak against Brown on Saturday, defeating the Bears 14-7 in overtime at Brown Stadium.

The Quakers' defense stopped Brown on the Bears' only four downs in overtime, keeping Brown's offense off the scoreboard for the day.

If not for an interception that cornerback A.J. Cruz '13 returned for a touchdown in the third quarter, Brown would have been shut out for the first time since 1996.

The Quakers' defense — the stingiest defense in the Ivy League by points allowed — blanked the Bears' offense, which had been the top offense in the Ivy League before Saturday.

Penn's defensive line and linebackers recorded three sacks and put pressure on Brown quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11 all day.

The Quakers' pass rush "definitely got him thinking," Lewko said. "We were in there a lot, making him scramble, getting a couple shots on him — especially in pressure
situations."

Newhall-Caballero was 24-of-42 passing for 241 yards but didn't have a touchdown  for the first time all season.

The Bears' attack was balanced in the first quarter, as they threw seven times and ran six. But running back Zach Tronti '11 didn't touch the ball in the second quarter and got only six handoffs in the final two quarters.

Tronti had 63 yards on 11 carries, making him only the second running back to gain over 60 yards against Penn this season.

The Quakers' offense struck early. On Penn's second drive of the game, quarterback Kyle Olson led his team 65 yards to the end zone for the only offensive touchdown scored in regulation. After throwing a 28-yard strike on the first play of the drive, Olsen threw short passes out of the I-formation for the remainder of the drive.

Olsen finished the first quarter 8-of-10 passing for 119 yards. But the rest of his day wasn't as easy.

"It seems like later in the game, they were in more of a cover two," Olsen said of Brown's defense. "Those corners were staying down there in the flat areas, and we had to react to that and start throwing more passes in the middle of the field."

Olsen threw four interceptions in the second half, three of which were passes over the middle. He finished 27-of-47 passing for 313 yards.

Penn Head Coach Al Bagnoli said his team — which usually focuses its attack around the run — turned to the pass because he didn't want to run at Brown's defensive line, which includes two All-Ivy players, co-captain Jimmy Develin '10 and David Howard '10.

Develin was all over the field on Saturday, racking up 8.5 tackles, including one sack. And Howard — who had a scout from the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs watching him — made two tackles and forced two hurries.

"I thought our defense played outstanding," said Head Coach Phil Estes. The tough unit "created those pressures for them to throw those interceptions, and it gave us an opportunity," he added.

The Bears scored their only points of the game when Cruz took an interception back for a touchdown on Penn's first drive after halftime. Olsen tried to hit Penn wide receiver Joe Holder in double coverage, but Cruz wrestled the ball out of Holder's hands and took it the other way.

Just after the start of the fourth quarter, with Penn just eight yards away from the goal line, Olson threw an interception to Blaine Grinna '11 in the end zone, keeping the game tied, 7-7.

The Bears offense drove 65 yards downfield on the ensuing drive, setting up a 32-yard field-goal attempt for Patrick Rooney '11. But Rooney, who was 0-of-3 on the day, sent it wide left.

Rooney, who is listed on the roster as a wide receiver and made a dramatic, unlikely go-ahead field goal in the final seconds against Holy Cross three weeks ago, had a chance to be the hero again when he lined up for a 44-yarder with the score tied and just seven seconds left in regulation. Against a strong wind, Rooney didn't have enough leg to reach the goalpost, sending the game into overtime.

"It wasn't the last (field-goal attempt), but it was the one before that — got to have it," Estes said. "Now he's not the hero … Not any one guy loses a game, and it takes a team to win."




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