PHILADELPHIA - Senior quarterback Ryan Becker excelled in his first start since 2010 and kept the University of Pennsylvania football team unbeaten in Ivy play with a 28-17 win over Yale on Saturday at Franklin Field.
Penn (4-2, 3-0 Ivy) won its seventh straight Ivy League game and remains as one of two undefeated teams in the Ancient Eight. Yale (3-3, 1-2 Ivy), which has won just once at Franklin Field in the last 21 years, lost its third straight game overall.
With fifth-year senior Billy Ragone unable to play due to a foot injury, Becker took the reins at quarterback for the third start of his career, and was everything Penn needed. He completed 77 percent of his passes, threw two touchdowns and finished without a turnover.
Though Yale got on the board first with a field goal, the first half was all Quakers. After a Penn punt deflected off a Yale blocker, sophomore Ian Dobbins recovered for the Quakers to give Becker and the offensive unit prime field position at the Bulldogs 33-yard line.
It took just two plays from there, as Becker dropped back, hit a streaking Kyle Wilcox along the left sideline, and Wilcox ran 29 yards untouched for the score. Wilcox's first career receiving touchdown gave the Quakers a 7-3 lead at the 3:22 mark of the first quarter.
Even without Ragone, head coach Al Bagnoli stuck with the two-quarterback system, subbing in freshman Adam Strouss from time-to-time to run the ball. This would prove crucial for the Quakers late in the first half, as Strouss took a 4th-and-1 carry four yards to keep a Penn drive alive. Just a play later, Becker hit senior wideout Conner Scott in the endzone from 29 yards out for his second touchdown pass of the game, the first time in his career throwing for multiple scores. The reception put Scott over 1,000 career receiving yards - the 17th player in program history to reach that milestone - and put the Red and Blue up 14-3 with 56 seconds left in the half.
Leading by 11, Penn, which has won seven straight games at home, came out just as hungry in the second half. The defense forced a three-and-out and the offense took the ball 79 yards in just 2:23 to expand the lead to 18 points. The drive was highlighted by a 42-yard pass from Becker to sophomore wide receiver Christian Stapleton, who overcame double coverage and defensive pass interference to haul it in. Becker then hit Spencer Kulcsar coming out of the backfield for 20 yards, and two plays later, Kulcsar punched it in untouched from the two.
With Yale failing to put any real pressure on the Quakers defense, the offense looked to run the clock and put away the Bulldogs. They did just that, going 70 yards, 63 of which came on the ground, for yet another touchdown and a 28-3 lead with 1:33 left in the third quarter. Rotating quarterbacks keyed the drive again, as Strouss was able to keep the ball on a read-option and take it in for the touchdown, the first of his young career.
It wasn’t until the 12:25 mark in the fourth quarter that the Bulldogs would score again. Yale’s fourth quarter touchdown pass was the first touchdown given up by Penn in more than seven quarters, totaling more than 81 minutes. A missed extra point kept the Bulldogs in single-digits, making it 28-9.
That wouldn’t be it for Yale, however, as they capitalized on a Quaker fumble and scored again, making it a 28-17 game with 4:42 remaining.
A personal foul allowed Yale to kick off from midfield, where they recovered their onside kick attempt and took over at the Penn 40.
But fifth-year senior Sam Chwarzynski single-handedly ended the Bulldogs comeback effort. He picked off the ensuing pass attempt - the first interception of his career. His second career interception came just minutes later on Yale’s final drive as the Bulldogs were again threatening to climb within one score.
From there, all Becker had to do was kneel it out as he moved to 3-0 in his career as a starter.
Becker finished the game 10-of-13 for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Wilcox earned his first 100-yard rushing performance with 129 on the ground and 158 total yards. Kulcsar chipped in a career-high 85 rush yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, while Scott caught two balls for 38 yards and a score in his return to the lineup.
Senior safety Sebastian Jaskowski had a team-high seven tackles, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Junior linebacker Dan Davis and junior safety Mike Laning also had seven tackles apiece. Chwarzynski had four tackles, including a tackle for loss and a pass breakup in addition to his two late interceptions.
Penn, which has won nine of its last 10 league games, has run for more than 200 yards in each Ivy League matchup this season. The Red and Blue finished with 218 rushing yards on Saturday and outgained Yale, 385-311. Penn held the ball held the ball 10 minutes longer than the Bulldogs and forced four turnovers.
Saturday also marked the 150th career Ivy League game for Coach Bagnoli. Penn's all-time wins leader (146) is second all-time with 110 Ivy League wins and owns the highest winning percentage of any coach in Ancient Eight history.
The Quakers, who are tied atop the Ivy League standings with arch rival Princeton, are back on the road next week when they head to Brown. Kickoff from Rhode Island will be at 12:30 p.m. The game can be seen nationally on Fox College Sports.