According to Yale head coach Tony Reno, the Bulldogs pride themselves on a “next-man up” mentality. That mentality took a front seat on Saturday as the Bulldogs snapped a four-game losing streak with a 27-13 victory over Penn, an accomplishment that came even after the Bulldogs lost quarterback Eric Williams ’16 early in the first quarter.
Williams left the game after an injury on Yale’s second drive of the game and did not return. The loss of Williams thrust backups Logan Scott ’16 and Derek Russell ’13 into the forefront for the Elis.
On his second series of the day, Russell led the Elis on a 14-play, 80-yard drive to the Quaker 11-yard line, but running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 fumbled the ball to deny Yale a scoring chance.
Penn took advantage of the turnover by marching 89 yards down the field for a touchdown. The Quakers were led by a backup quarterback of their own in Andrew Holland. He found running back Lyle Marsh wide open in the end zone for a 3-yard pass with 5:52 left until halftime.
The Elis cut the deficit to four on the ensuing drive with a 43-yard field goal by kicker Philippe Panico ’13. The kick was a career-long for Panico with the Bulldogs, although he had set the Massachusetts high school state record with a 58-yard kick while attending Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass.
After forcing a three-and-out by Penn on the next play, the Elis began at their own 41-yard line with just 1:26 remaining until halftime. Reno decided to send the strong-armed Logan Scott out under center for the Elis, and his decision paid off.
Scott went 5-8 for 49 yards on the drive, capping it with a 4-yard score to wide receiver Henry Furman ’14 to give the Bulldogs a 10-7 halftime lead.
Senior quarterback Billy Ragone returned to the field in the second half for the Quakers, but on his second drive of the half, he was intercepted by linebacker Brian Leffler, who returned the pick 47 yards to the Penn four-yard line. Yale made it 17-7 on the very next play when Russell rolled to his left and hit a wide-open tight end Elijah Thomas.
The Quakers answered with a 34-yard field goal by Connor Loftus to cut the deficit to 17-10.
The two teams would then trade field goals on the next two drives. Panico delivered a 42-yarder for the Bulldogs with 1:22 left in the third. Loftus responded with a 27-yard chip early less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
The Elis got back into the end zone on their next possession, driving 77 yards on 14 plays over 5:08. Russell dove into the end zone on a quarterback keep from three yards out to extend Yale’s lead to 27-13 with 8:01 to go.
Penn put Holland back in for Ragone at quarterback on the following drive, but defensive end Beau Palin sacked him twice, including once on fourth down to force a turnover on downs.
A low snap on a field goal attempt prevented Yale from adding to its lead, but Penn’s drive stalled thanks to three incompletions by Ragone, including one on fourth down that sailed out of bounds with 3:53 to play in the game.
Russell finished the game 13-20 with 94 yards and a touchdown through the air, plus 61 yards and another score on the ground. Scott was 8-11 with 67 passing yards and a touchdown strike of his own.