The Yale football team returned to the place where it ignited a five-game win streak to capture the 2017 Ivy League title outright in hopes of rejuvenating its current championship aspirations.
After winning a 24–19 comeback thriller over Penn a season ago, the Bulldogs (4–2, 2–1 Ivy) comfortably defeated the Quakers (4–2, 1–2) on Friday night 23–10 behind 244 yards rushing in the wake of a third-quarter injury to quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20.
“I’m very proud of the effort of Team 146 tonight,” head coach Tony Reno said. “I thought that they really played a tough, gritty game against a very good Penn team. To come into Franklin Field and walk away with a win is not something that happens all the time. We’re very fortunate today to be able to put enough plays together to come out on the right side of the scoreboard.”
On a chilly night in Philadelphia, the Bulldog offense got off to an incendiary start on its first play of the game as running back Alan Lamar ’20 powered 47 yards into Penn territory. After a sideline completion to wide receiver Reed Klubnik ’20 on third-and-long kept the drive alive, Rawlings dived into the endzone for a four-yard touchdown to give Team 146 an early 8–0 lead.
Although the Quakers answered with a 23-yard field goal on the ensuing series, Lamar busted loose for another 47-yard gain this time for a touchdown on Yale’s second possession to extend the Elis’ advantage to 15–3 midway through the first quarter. Following seven combined scoreless series from both sides, the Bulldogs ended the drought with a two-yard scoring plunge from Lamar with just seconds remaining in the first half. A long completion to tight end JJ Howland ’21 earlier in the drive set up Lamar’s second touchdown of the night as Yale pulled ahead 21–3 heading into the intermission.
However, the Quakers responded in the second half with a goal line stand that forced a fumble from Lamar on Penn’s one-yard line to keep the game within three scores. The sequence came after Rawlings was carted off the field with an apparent injury, thrusting backup signal-caller Jimmy Check ’21 into starting duty for the remainder of the game. Penn quarterback Ryan Glover then promptly orchestrated a 12-play, 99-yard drive capped off by a beautiful fade pass into the corner of the end zone to wideout Steve Farrell to make it a 21–10 affair late in the third quarter.
As the momentum began to shift in the home squad’s direction, the Quakers forced a punt on Yale’s ensuing possession but an errant snap in their own end zone recovered by Penn resulted in a Bulldog safety. Following the defensive score, the Elis led 23–10 but struggled to increase their separation as the offense primarily opted for conservative rushes to Lamar, who finished the game with 179 yards on the ground, in the fourth quarter with Check under center.
As Yale repeatedly punted from around midfield, the Quakers failed to consistently move the chains after being pinned deep in their own territory for most of the final period. Still, an 87-yard completion from Glover to Farrell with less than four minutes to play gave Penn new life. But Team 146 ultimately forced a fourth-down incompletion in the end zone to seal the game as the Bulldogs emerged from Franklin Field with the 13-point victory and a much-needed conference triumph.
Yale hits the road again to take on Columbia next Saturday at 1 p.m.