PHILADELPHIA – For the better part of two seasons, Justin Watson has staked claim to being one of the best wide receivers in the storied history of the University of Pennsylvania football program. In front of a boisterous Homecoming crowd, Watson furthered his argument with a career high 210 yards on 11 catches as the Quakers stayed perfect in the Ivy League following a 21-14 win over Brown.
Watson’s 210 yards are the fourth-most in a single game in program history -- and eighth-most in a single game by any FCS player in 2016 -- and he became the first Quaker to reach the 200-yard mark since Dan Castles against Cornell in 2003.
The Bears had no answers for Watson in the first half as he caught eight passes for 158 yards and a touchdown as Penn built a 21-0 lead.
Brown would not wilt, scoring twice in the second half to close within one score. The Red and Blue would need a Sam Philippi interception in the endzone with 1:28 remaining to secure the win and improve Penn to 5-2 overall and 4-0 inside the Ivy League.
The Quakers have now won 10 consecutive Ivy League games, the 12th-longest streak in Ivy history – Penn now has six of the 12 longest Ivy League winning streaks since the Ancient Eight was formed in 1956.
Penn’s defense was up to its old tricks in the first half – shutting out an opponent for the third consecutive week and keeping the opposition off the scoreboard in the first quarter for the fourth week in a row. Nick Miller had eight tackles – including seven solo stops and two tackles for loss – while cornerback Mason Williams was in on six total tackles – including two behind the line of scrimmage.
It was the aforementioned defense that led the way in the first half for Penn, as Brown registered just 98 yards of total offense. Fueled by the defense forcing four punts and a missed Bears’ field goal, the Quakers’ offense engineered three scoring drives to take a 21-0 lead into the locker room.
After Brown was no good on a 34-yard field goal attempt midway through the first quarter, the Quakers hit the gas pedal and needed just three plays to take a 7-0 lead. Torgersen busted off a 13-yard rush, and on the next play hit Watson for a 67-yard touchdown – Penn’s longest TD pass of the season.
Unlike their first scoring drive—which was just three plays, lasting 39 seconds—the Quakers took more of a methodical approach in the second quarter. A 15-play, 87-yard march down the field was capped off by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Torgersen to Pearson at the 9:53 mark. Torgersen followed that up by leading Penn’s longest scoring drive of the season to end the first half. With just 22 seconds left, Tre Solomon plunged in from one yard out to finish off a 16-play, 82-yard drive to paydirt.
Brown’s offense was finally sparked in the third quarter following a Solomon fumble, which yielded a short field for the Bears. Five plays later, T.J. Linta rushed in from one-yard out for Brown’s first touchdown of the day. Following two Penn punts, Brown once again cut into the lead. Linta began the scoring drive with a 58-yard connection to Garrett Swanky, while Johnny Pena ran in from the two-yard line to cut Penn’s lead to 21-14 heading into the final quarter.
The Quakers had a chance to make the game a two-score contest early in the fourth quarter, but a Jack Soslow field-goal attempt went wide right with 6:57 remaining. Still clinging to life—down by just seven points—Brown drove the ball all the way to the Penn 28-yard line. Penn’s defense responded from there. Miller and Williams tallied back-to-back tackles for loss to setup 3rd-and-16 from the Penn 31 before Philippi made the defensive play of the game with an interception in the endzone.
The Quakers will make the short trip to Princeton to take on the rival, Tigers. Penn and Princeton are set to kick-off at noon.