October 24, 2009

Penn Tops Yale 9-0 on Rainy Day in Philly

Quakers Win Defensive Struggle

PHILADELPHIA - Two tough defenses went to battle in the rain at Franklin Field Saturday afternoon, and when all was said and done the game was determined in a span of less than two minutes late in the first quarter. A field goal and an interception return for a touchdown gave Penn a 9-0 win over Yale.

"It's a disappointing loss," said Tom Williams, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. "Penn did a nice job of making plays. We didn't make enough of them. We played with great intensity, but that's not enough. All the credit goes to them."

Yale's defensive performance, coming on the heels of a shutout of Lehigh last week, was all the more impressive considering that the Bulldogs were without their leading tackler, senior strong safety Larry Abare. He was injured against the Mountain Hawks, and junior Marcus Wallace started in his place.

Penn drove to the Yale 18 on its first possession but junior cornerback Adam Money defended a pass in the end zone on third down and the Quakers settled for a 35-yard field goal by Andrew Samson at 4:18 of the first. That ended a span of 94:01 without allowing a point for the Bulldogs, dating back to the third quarter of the win over Dartmouth two weeks before.

On the next Yale drive the Quakers' Jared Sholly intercepted a short screen pass and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown, but a bad snap on the extra-point attempt left the score 9-0 Penn. Still, that span of 1:53 changed the complexion of the rest of the game. Penn (4-2, 3-0 Ivy League) would run the ball 37 times in 57 plays over the final three quarters of the game, playing ball control on a day where points were at a premium. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, would throw the ball on 24 of their 41 plays in the final three quarters while attempting to mount a comeback.

After the interception return for a TD, the Yale defense forced punts on the next four Penn drives, none of which totaled more than 33 yards.

"Down 9-0, we knew we were going to have to step up and not let them score the rest of the game," said senior linebacker Tim Handlon, who led the team in tackles with 11. "We bent but we didn't break."

The Bulldogs got a turnover on Penn's first drive of the third quarter when quarterback Kyle Olson's pass hit off intended receiver Matt Tuten and deflected high in the air. Senior outside linebacker Max Newton grabbed it to get the Yale offense started at its own 20. The Bulldogs also got a fumble forced by Handlon and recovered by senior defensive lineman Tom McCarthy on the next Penn drive, but could not get any points out of those turnovers.

The Yale defense and special teams set the offense up at the Penn 40 with 10:52 to play. The first big play was senior outside linebacker Justin Oplinger getting to Olson just as he threw on second down; the ball squirted loose and was ruled an incomplete pass but could have been called a fumble. On the Yale punt block unit, sophomore linebacker Jordan Haynes came up with another big play when he got a piece of Scott Lopano's punt and it traveled just 14 yards.

With the offense starting at the Penn 40, sophomore Patrick Witt came in at quarterback in place of junior Brook Hart and led Yale to the Penn 12. The Bulldogs had two passes into the end zone that just missed their targets, and another where Witt was pressured into an incompletion. A missed 28-yard field goal attempt kept the score 9-0 Penn.

Penn ran four minutes off the clock on its next drive before punting, and the Bulldogs took over at their own 25. Witt had a 36-yard completion to junior receiver Peter Balsam wiped away by a holding call, but still managed to complete four straight passes to get the ball to the Penn 43. After a 14-yarder to freshman tailback Mordecai Cargill, the Bulldogs had a third-and-10 pass from the Penn 30 broken up. They tried another field goal with 1:36 to play but missed, and the Quakers came on to run out the clock.

Yale (3-3, 1-2 Ivy League) plays at Columbia next Saturday.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity