Looking to build off their recent victory against Cornell, the Bears took to the road in search of their second consecutive Ivy League win this past Saturday. But Bruno fell just short in Philadelphia, losing 20-17 to a Penn team that staged a successful comeback in the game's final minutes.
"We didn't get beat by a better team," said Head Coach Phil Estes. "We beat ourselves. We had too many penalties, and you can't win football games with four interceptions and picks in the red zone."
The Bears' (4-3, 1-3 Ivy) depleted depth chart suffered another blow before the game began. Jordan Reisner '14 - who had an outstanding performance in last weekend's Cornell game, running for 193 yards - was effectively out of commission this weekend with a broken wrist. Jeffrey Izon '13 was also slowed by a sprained ankle, though he managed to run for a team-high 44 yards.
"Izon gave us all he could give out there," Estes said. But with the team's top five tailbacks all injured, "we're not going to hang our hats on the running game," he added.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Quakers (3-4, 3-1) scored the first points of the game late in the second. Wide receiver Conner Scott caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Quaker quarterback Billy Ragone to cap a 70-yard drive.
Getting the ball back with 19 seconds left in the half, the Bears caught a break as the Quakers were hit with a 15-yard interference penalty on a 32-yard punt. Starting at the Penn 49, quarterback Patrick Donnelly '13 completed a pass to wide receiver Stian Romberg '15 for a 20-yard gain that put the team within field goal range. Despite two subsequent incomplete passes, Alex Norocea '14 was able to connect on the 46-yard attempt, bringing the score to 7-3 as time expired.
The Bears took a three point lead midway through the third quarter after wide receiver Tellef Lundevall '13 made a 10-yard catch for Bruno's first touchdown. Lundevall had an impressive performance Saturday afternoon, racking up a total of 170 yards and accounting for more than half of the team's passing offense. Lundevall's 17 catches put him at sixth place in the Brown football record books for receptions in a single game.
On the next possession, the Quakers responded emphatically, taking back the lead with a 36-yard pass from Ragone to Jason Seifert to put them up 14-10.
The Bears had an opportunity to regain the lead early in the fourth quarter when a Quaker personal foul moved Bruno to Penn's eight yard line with a full set of downs. But Drew Harris intercepted Donnelly's first attempt to end Bruno's drive.
Estes said his team's defensive squad, which held Penn to 103 rushing yards and 207 passing yards, did a solid job.
"Those are stats that you could live with," he said. "Our defense has been a mainstay."
Co-captain and defensive lineman Ross Walthall '13 echoed Estes' comments. "As a defense, we did a very good job of shutting down their traditional running game," he said. "For a team that loves the power running game, we did a good job of getting to them."
The Quakers had been averaging 133 yards per game on the ground.
With 9:06 left to play, the Bears found themselves with the ball once more. Donnelly orchestrated a 69-yard drive that ate up over five minutes and ended with a one-yard touchdown plunge by Colby Taulbee '14. Taulbee, who had been out with an injury for the last two games, ran for 11 yards and had two catches for 46 yards this weekend.
But the Quakers tied the game again on a 45-yard field goal by Connor Loftus made possible by a 46-yard kickoff return by Dexter Davis.
A.J. Cruz '13 returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, seemingly giving the Bears a commanding lead with just 2:13 remaining. But the touchdown was called back due to a holding penalty. Estes didn't dispute the call, saying it was an "absolute hold."
After advancing the ball only 13 yards, Donnelly threw for another interception at the Brown 44, returning the ball to a Quaker team with three timeouts left. Penn went on to score a field goal with 14 seconds remaining. The Bears could not come up with a response, and Donnelly's fourth interception of the game left Bruno without a chance.
Estes said that the holding penalty that nullified the kickoff return was just one example of the need for players to avoid costly mistakes. "If you have 10 guys doing the right thing, and one guy doesn't, that won't work," he said. "You need to have 11 guys on the same page. And if we can do that, we'll be fine."
But Estes said the team is excited to return to the familiar Brown Stadium for another Ivy matchup against Yale this Saturday.
"We've been on the road way too much," he said. "It'll be very nice to be at home this weekend."
With three games left, the Ivy championship is now virtually out of reach for the Bears, and Estes said the team's motivation will have to shift.
"At this point, they know they're not playing for an Ivy championship," he said. "They're playing for their pride. They're playing for the seniors."