After the football team fell to Cornell on a go-ahead field goal during the game’s waning seconds last weekend, Brown hoped to rebound Saturday against a Penn squad that was still searching for its first Ivy League victory of the season. Instead, it was deja vu for the Bears, as the Quakers knocked a field goal through the uprights with two seconds left in the game to hand Bruno a 38-36 loss.
The defeat left Brown as the last Ivy League team without a conference win, and extended the Bears’ 19-game Ivy losing streak.
“It’s difficult to lose, and we’ve got a senior group who’s hungry to win,” said Head Coach James Perry ’00. “But, we keep making progress. Each week, I think we get a little bit better, a little closer.”
Brown (1-6, 0-4 Ivy) got off to an explosive start on offense, as quarterback EJ Perry ’21 turned on the jets for a 50-yard rushing touchdown. The Bears’ defense also had a strong first quarter, holding the Quakers to four straight punts and just 24 yards as Bruno finished the period with a 7-0 lead.
But Penn’s offense got rolling in the second quarter, as the Quakers embarked on a seven-play, 69-yard drive capped by a touchdown from running back Abe Willows. Then a Brown fumble set up Penn with prime field position, and the Quakers needed just four plays to cash in with another Willows rushing touchdown. The Bears’ rushing attack responded, as a 44-yard scamper by running back Allen Smith ’22 set up another score on the ground by Perry. But a missed extra point from Dawson Goepfrich ’20 prevented Bruno from tying the game, and Brown remained behind 14-13.
The teams turned to the air as the first half came to a close. Penn quarterback Nick Robinson found receiver Ryan Cragun on a 24-yard scoring connection, but Perry responded with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Jakob Prall ’20. Still, a missed two-point conversion attempt kept the Bears down by two going into the locker room.
Following halftime, Penn appeared to grab the momentum. The Bears received the ball to open the third quarter, but Perry tossed an interception to Penn’s Brian O’Neill to give the Quakers possession in the red zone. Penn capitalized with a single play — an 11-yard pass from Robinson to Rory Starkey Jr. to extend the Quaker lead to 28-19. On Brown’s next possession, the Bears coughed up a fumble. O’Neill once again recovered the turnover for the Quakers, and this time took it to the end zone himself to give Penn a commanding 35-19 lead.
But the Bears slowly clawed their way back into the game. Bruno knocked in a 24-yard field goal by Goepfrich, and its defense began to clamp down. Brown forced two consecutive three-and-outs by the Quakers, and Smith found the end zone to cut Penn’s lead to just six. The Bears forced a Penn fumble on their next defensive stand, and Perry capitalized with his third rushing touchdown of the afternoon. Suddenly, Brown held a 36-35 advantage, their first lead since going ahead 7-0. Then, safety Joseph Shell ’23 picked off Robinson, giving Bruno control of a game that seemed like a Penn blowout just minutes prior.
“This week, the deficit was created by me, so I think it was my obligation to do whatever I could to get us out of it,” EJ Perry said.
Unfortunately for the Bears, they proceeded to suffer almost the exact same late-game fate as the previous week against Cornell. Deep in Penn territory with four minutes remaining, Brown turned the ball over on downs, as Demitri Jackson ’20 was only able to pick up nine yards on fourth and ten. Brown’s defense, which had been so unrelenting the previous four possessions, allowed Robinson to lead a game-winning drive and set up Quaker kicker Daniel Karrash for a short field goal. Karrash knocked the 22-yarder through the uprights with just two seconds left in the contest. Perry threw an interception on a desperation heave on the game’s final play, sealing Brown’s 19th consecutive Ivy League loss and their fourth of the season.
“It’s hard to take losing in the last second like that, especially after coming a long way,” said tight end Emerson Logie ’20. “But, after watching the film, we did a lot of really good things that put us in that position to come back.”
Despite the loss, Perry put up another statistically impressive performance, with 225 passing yards, 117 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. The dual-threat Bears quarterback leads the Ivy League in combined passing and rushing yards. Smith also had a solid day on the ground with 83 yards and two scores— he is seventh in rushing yards among players in the Ancient Eight.
Brown returns home next week for a showdown with another Ivy league rival in Yale. “Motivating (the team) for a home game against Yale will be pretty easy, they’ve been a very responsive group for me,” James Perry said. “Even though it’s a tough loss (to Penn), I know we’ll bounce back.”