Courtesy of David Schamis

The Yale football team (4–2, 2–1 Ivy) saw its four-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday against the University of Pennsylvania Quakers (6–0, 3–0 Ivy) in a 13–20 loss.

The game was a slugfest of two teams who were both undefeated in Ivy League play and not keen on dropping in the conference standings. But even with dramatic on-field action, a nearly one-hour delay during halftime due to a student protest for climate and community causes also worked to define Penn’s homecoming game.

“The team fought hard,” captain Nick Gargiulo ’23 said. “We made some mistakes in key moments that left the game up to chance. The team is looking forward to this upcoming week against Columbia. We will continue working and getting better.”

The story of the game for both sides was defense, both because of strong play on that side of the ball and sputtering performances for both teams’ offenses. The difference came with the Quakers outgaining the Bulldogs 397 to 292 yards in total offense.  

Courtesy of David Schamis

The game was deadlocked entering the half, with the score tied at 10. However, the approximately 30 minutes of homecoming activities were not the only thing that kept the teams in their locker rooms for nearly two hours in the middle of the game.

The Protest

Student protestors jumped down from the stands and flooded the field following a performance by the Penn marching band in a similar manner to the protest at Yale during the The Game in 2019

Mostly members of the student group Fossil Free Penn, the protestors were advocating for divestment from fossil fuels as well as a number of social justice issues within the Penn community. 

It took nearly an hour for police and security to clear the field for the second half to kickoff, with the final protestors being handcuffed before being removed from the field. 

“Public pressure is something we’re hoping for and alumni pressure,” Penn student Sarah Sterinbach told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re showing Penn we are not going to stop fighting until we get these demands [met].”

Courtesy of David Schamis

The Second Half

When the teams retook the field again for the second half, they were given extra time to warm up.

Following the long delay, the third quarter took on a disjointed air, with both teams struggling to move the ball. The only score of the quarter was a 20-yard Penn field goal.

Early in the fourth quarter, Bulldogs’ kicker Jack Bosman ’24 tied the game at 13 with a blast of a kick from 46-yards. The game picked up again, as each possession took on an extra feeling of importance as it became clear that the next score could decide the outcome of the game. 

“The mood of the game was pretty electric throughout,” Yale fan Matthew Lee ’25 said. “It was homecoming weekend for Penn, so I got to sit with my friend in the Penn student section and they were energetic throughout.”

The crowd only got more energetic when Penn got the ball at their own 41-yard line with just over five minutes left in the game. Penn methodically drove down the field and won the game on a touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game.

Looking back and looking forward

While difficult to see the win streak come to an end, the game certainly proved the mettle of the Bulldogs. In a hostile environment, the Bulldogs nearly overcame tremendous adversity to beat a difficult opponent, but fell just short. 

First-year running back Joshua Pitsenberger ’26 posted another big day with 89 rushing yards and the Bulldogs’ only touchdown of the day. The Bulldogs had a successful day overall on the ground, racking up 180 yards, while quarterback Nolan Grooms ’24 and the passing attack struggled to gain traction, only gaining 125 passing yards. 

Courtesy of David Schamis

On defense the Bulldogs were missing star defensive end Oso Ifesinachukwu ’23 after he suffered an injury last weekend, but may have found another star in the making. Sophomore Tamatoa McDonough ’25 stepped into the big shoes of Ifesinachukwu and looked right at home, generating pressure all afternoon and posting 1.5 sacks for the Bulldogs.  

Team 149 will now prepare for a week different than any other on their schedule. For the only time this season, the Elis won’t play on Saturday, but on Friday instead.

The Bulldogs will travel to New York City to face the Columbia Lions at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU.

Spencer King is an Editor for the Sports desk. He has covered the Yale football and women's ice hockey teams. He has also previously covered the Yale men's lacrosse team and most things Bulldogs sports. Spencer is a junior in Davenport College and is majoring in Political Science.
Amelia Lower covers football, men's ice hockey and men's lacrosse. She is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College from Rye, New York, double-majoring in Spanish and the History of Science, Medicine and Public Health.