PHILADELPHIA - In a highly entertaining game that featured the only two teams that entered the day undefeated in Ivy League play, the University of Pennsylvania football team was doomed by turnovers and fell to Brown, 34-27, at Franklin Field on Saturday.
In an effort to keep up with Brown's high powered offense, the Quakers, who fell to 3-1 in theIvies (4-3 overall), pulled out all the stops on offense. Five different Quakers completed a pass with 11 different receivers making a catch. Sophomore running back Bradford Blackmon threw for a touchdown pass and caught a touchdown pass, and third-string quarterback Keiffer Garton had a 19-yard reception. Penn actually out gained Brown, who is now 4-0 (5-2 overall), on the offensive side of the ball and blocked a punt, field goal and extra point, but four turnovers allowed the Bears to hold on for the win in front of a Homecoming crowd of 15,056.
Penn, as usual, made it interesting in the end. Five out of Penn's seven games this season have been decided by one possession, including all three of its losses. Junior Kevin Gray blocked a punt in the end zone and when senior Tyson Maugle fell on the ball for a Quaker touchdown with 1:21 remaining in the game, Penn had closed to within 34-27. But Brown recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.
Brown started the scoring on its first possession when the national leader in receptions, Bobby Sewall, ran in from nine yards out. Sewall would finish with six catches for 47 yards and a fourth quarter touchdown.
With junior Kyle Olson earning his career FCS start at quarterback, Penn responded with its longest drive in seven years. The Quakers held the ball for 19 plays and drove to the Brown four-yard line before the near-nine minute drive ended in a 22-yard Andrew Samson field goal with 1:56 left in the first. The last time Penn had a drive of such magnitude was Oct. 27, 2001, coincidentally against the Bears. Penn held the ball for 22 plays and 10:46 on that drive.
Brown looked good again on its next drive, but sophomore Brian Wing batted down a field goal attempt to keep the Quakers within four. This enabled Olson and the Quakers to take their first lead of the day a few drives later. Another impressive march, lasting 10 plays, 69 yards and four different passers ended in Penn's first touchdown in nearly eight quarters. Olson, who was lost for the game during the drive after injuring his knee, Garton and senior Robert Irvin all took snaps for the Quakers on their way into the end zone, but it was Blackmon who converted the halfback pass on third-and-goal to sophomore Luke DeLuca - his first career reception.
When sophomore Dave Kuncio kicked the ball away, the Bears had just 1:10 remaining in the half to work with. But they would only need 16 seconds to regain the lead. Buddy Farnham hauled in a 57-yard pass down the right sideline for a score - though replays from the national VERSUS telecast seemed to show that he had stepped out of bounds on his way into the end zone - the touchdown stood and Brown had a 14-10 halftime lead.
Penn took the lead on its first drive with Garton and Irvin sharing snaps. Irvin capped the possession with a 12-yard pass to Blackmon for a three-point lead, 17-14. After a Brown punt, the turnover trouble began. A mishandle on the second-down snap gave Brown the ball at the Penn 11-yard line. Two plays later, Farnham scored his second touchdown of the day for a 21-17 lead midway through the third quarter.
The score held through the the third quarter, but Brown posted another 13 points in the final frame. Penn had allowed just 10 points in the second half the entire season. A touchdown on their first possession of the quarter gave Brown a commanding 28-17 lead. But with Garton at quarterback, Penn drove into field goal range. Garton was 3-for-4 on the drive for 54 yards in setting up Samson's 38-yard try to make it a one-possession game.
With 4:23 left in the game, Brown stopped Garton on fourth-down at the Penn 28. A 29-yard touchdown pass two plays later seemed to put the game away. However, Wing blocked another kick on the point after attempt and the score was 34-20. The Quakers then drove to the Brown 11, but a tipped pass was intercepted and the game was again all but over with 3:04 remaining. That is, until Penn blocked the punt in the Brown end zone, giving them yet another opportunity on the onside kick.
It was the first time in nearly two years that the Quakers did not force a turnover. The last time they went without a takeaway was Nov. 4, 2006 in a two-overtime loss to Princeton - 19 games ago. Instead, Brown forced four turnovers.
Saturday also marked the first quarterback action of Garton's career. He finished with 4-of-9 passing for 63 yards, a team-high 49 yards rushing, and a 19-yard reception. Senior Marcus Lawrence led the Quakers with six catches for 58 yards.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Quakers as they meet Princeton for the 100th time on Friday night. The historic matchup will be nationally televised on ESPNU with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. in Princeton, N.J.