After falling behind early, the football team mounted a comeback in the second half but fell just short, losing to Penn 21-14 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia Saturday.
The Bears (2-5, 1-3 Ivy) trailed 21-0 at the half, as Penn (5-2, 4-0) showed why its offense ranks near the top of the conference in almost every statistical category. After two quarters, the Quakers had outgained the Bears 276-98. The half resembled Brown’s contest at Princeton earlier this season, in which the Bears fell behind early and struggled on both sides of the ball, eventually losing 31-7.
Brown could not capitalize on two drives starting in Penn territory in the first quarter, missing a field goal and failing to make Penn pay for a fumble recovered by Sebastian Dovi ’19. Long drives by the Penn offense kept quarterback TJ Linta ’18 and the Brown offense on the sideline for a majority of the first half.
“The first half was tough, I think we only ran twenty-something plays,” Linta said.
But Brown came out looking like a different team in the second half, especially on defense, holding Penn scoreless and limiting the Quakers to just over 100 yards.
“In the second half (the defense) played lights out,” Linta said. “It allowed us to start putting drives together.”
Richard Jarvis ’17 was strong all game for Bruno, recording eight tackles and two sacks and forcing a fumble early in the third quarter that was recovered by Will Twyman ’16.5 deep in Penn territory.
With Penn’s offense suddenly disarmed, Linta found his groove, first putting Brown on the board with a quarterback sneak from one yard out after the turnover. It was Linta’s most successful game after a steady improvement in each of his four starts, finishing 22-for-34 passing for 216 yards.
“I’ve built up confidence over the past few weeks I’ve been starting, and it’s just grown,” Linta said.
Alex Jette ’17, Garrett Swanky ’17 and Anton Casey ’19 all had five receptions that day.
“Our receiving core is one of the best in the Ivy League,” Linta said. “When you’ve got guys like that, it makes your job a little easier.”
Swanky recorded 58 of his 100 receiving yards on one play, beating the Penn secondary and being knocked out of bounds at the 3-yard line after hauling in a long strike from Linta. The play set up Brown’s second touchdown, a two-yard run by Johnny Pena ’17 to pull Bruno within one score.
After a missed Penn field goal, Brown had 89 yards to go and 6:57 left to even the score. Livingstone Harriott ’20 broke off a 23-yard run to move Brown into Quaker territory, one of several big runs for the first-year. Harriott finished with 85 yards rushing on 16 carries, mostly coming from the wildcat formation.
Facing 3rd-and-long with under two minutes remaining, Linta was intercepted in the back of the end zone after Swanky stumbled in pursuit of the deep pass, handing Penn its 10th straight Ivy win dating back to last year.
The Quakers sit on top of the conference with Harvard, though Saturday’s game was the closest winning margin for the team this season.
Penn’s Justin Watson, the Ivy leader in receiving yards, gave the Brown defense trouble all game, starting with a 67-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to get the scoring started for the Quakers. Watson finished with 210 yards receiving on 11 catches.
Despite the loss, Bruno found positives in the close defeat, especially in outscoring the Quakers 14-0 after a shaky first half.
“I was really proud of how our team bounced back in the second half,” Linta said. “We really picked it up and it was good to see.”
Brown falls back into a three-way tie for fifth place with Cornell and Columbia with three contests to go. The Bears take on Yale Saturday at Brown Stadium, hoping to snap a four-game losing streak against the Elis dating back to 2012.