In a nationally televised game in Philadelphia Friday night, the football team (4-3, 2-2 Ivy) beat Penn (5-2, 2-2 Ivy) 30-26 after defensive back Isaiah Reed ’25 secured a key interception late in the game, squashing the Quakers’ hopes of mounting a comeback.
Prior to the game, Penn’s overall record of 5-1 tied Harvard for the best in the Ivy League, and the Bears historically had won just 25 of 90 games against the Quakers, The Herald previously reported. Bruno’s win against Penn is their second in a row following their 34-31 victory in 2022.
“A win like this is big for sure. Coming down to the wire, the defense’s back against the wall, we had to step up, and we did,” Reed said in a postgame interview. “Our offense was putting up points all game, and we really stayed together. We really had to fight, and it’s a great win going into next week.”
“It was a great opportunity — we played an unbelievable team, and we showed the resilience that we have,” quarterback Jake Willcox ’24 said in a postgame interview. “It means the world to the team, and we’re going to keep on building.”
Coming off a difficult 36-14 loss to Cornell last week, Head Coach James Perry ’00 emphasized the importance of veteran leadership. “We (have) great leadership,” he said in a postgame interview. “As coaches, you don’t try to do too much — let the kids take care of it and they did. It was a player-driven effort, all week in practice, and then obviously tonight.”
“We definitely had to shake off last week’s game. Coach really drilled that into us,” Reed said. “We had to go out, play our game, and once we do that, we can show that we are a really good team and hard to beat.”
Through the first quarter, the Bears’ offense remained relatively stagnant, getting on the board with a field goal from kicker Christopher Maron ’25 on the team’s first drive. From there, the Quakers proceeded to answer back with a 75-yard drive that ended with a five-yard rushing touchdown courtesy of sophomore backup quarterback Liam O’Brien, bringing the score to 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Brown’s offense got back on track, starting with another field goal before Reed got his first interception of the night. Bruno failed to capitalize on the turnover and was forced to punt, but cornerback Aubrey Parker ’24 quickly recorded the Bears’ second interception of the night. Brown then marched down the field, recording a touchdown on a pitch from Willcox to running back Stockton Owen ’25, putting the Bears ahead 13-7.
Penn’s next drive ended in a field goal, cutting Bruno’s lead to three with just over five minutes remaining in the half. Brown’s offense responded with a 75-yard drive ending in a 29-yard connection from Willcox to wide receiver Mark Mahoney ’24 to give the Bears a 20-10 lead. But with under a minute left in the half, the Quakers managed a quick drive ending in a touchdown pass from quarterback Aidan Sayin to make the score 20-17 at halftime.
After the Brown defense forced its first punt of the night at the start of the second half, the Bears converted a crucial fourth-and-4. Bruno scored another touchdown when receiver Solomon Miller ’26 ran untouched into the endzone off a jet sweep. Maron soon added another field goal to make the score 30-17 in Brown’s favor.
After an 80-yard touchdown drive by Penn, both offenses began to struggle. Down 30-24 with only a minute left in regulation, the Quakers managed to work their way deep into Bears territory. On third-and-goal at Brown’s eight-yard line, Sayin launched a pass into the endzone but was picked off again by Reed, his second interception of the game and third overall this year.
Reed is “just always working. Even when they get a completion, he makes it hard,” Perry said. “He’s just one of those kids you can count on to keep playing hard.”
The Bears took a safety on the subsequent drive, bringing the score to 30-26 and giving Penn the ball. But Bruno’s defense held firm to lock down the win.
Willcox, the Ivy League’s leading passer, had another strong night, putting up 249 yards while completing over 70 percent of his passes and throwing for three touchdowns with no interceptions. He also collected 47 yards on the ground.
“Jake’s played really good football all year, but to play it on the road, against that defense, I mean that’s very impressive,” Perry said. “He made really good decisions, and he did a lot with his feet.”
“I trust my teammates, obviously my offensive line played unbelievably today. I (have) the best receivers in the league, so they make my job really easy,” Willcox said. “The trust we have in each other is the biggest thing.”
The Bears now hope to take the momentum from Friday’s win into next week’s home matchup against the Yale Bulldogs (4-3, 2-2 Ivy).
“Regardless of (the) result, I love seeing these guys just playing hard and showing who they are,” Perry said. “To me, more important than … anything else is we need to (get) back to playing Brown football, playing fast and playing fun — and they did it.”