By Harry Allison
For Penn football fans it has been a dark and gloomy 2014.
Just like the weather and the outcome yesterday at Franklin Field, where Brown dominated the line of scrimmage with an efficient running game and beat Penn 21-13 before a sparse homecoming crowd..
A bitterly cold rain drove much of the crowd away — attendance was 8,176 — and the Quakers (1-6, 1-3 Ivy) didn’t give the hardy fans much to cheer in the early going.
Penn punted on its opening four possessions, and only truly came to life on its final drive of the first half, when Torgersen orchestrated a 65 yard drive that ended with backup quarterback Adam Strouss plunging in from a yard out to cut a 14-0 Bears lead in half just 39 seconds before the break (photo above).
Brown (4-3, 2-2) was able to match the Penn effort on the ground — and then some, as the driving rain wound up producing an unlikely hero. Backup quarterback Seth Rosenbauer — who only had 18 carries entering Saturday’s contest — tore Penn’s front seven to shreds, rushing for 206 yards on 30 attempts and adding two short touchdowns.
“I don’t know if anybody expected that I would get 30 carries,” he said. “But the weather ended up like that.”
“You’re as good as your down linemen allow you to be at times,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli added. “And today I thought they dominated us up front, and that was really the difference in the game .”
In contrast, the Quakers were only able to pick up 37 yards on 23 attempts, resulting in a pitiful 1.6 yards per carry average. Forced to throw, Torgersen completed 30 of 47 passes, but at the price of absorbing a number of huge hits from Brown defensive end Henry Bumpus.
Brown starting quarterback Marcus Fuller had a solid day in his own right given the conditions, throwing a beautiful strike to Reiley Higgins for a 36 yard touchdown in the second quarter and completing 14 of 27 passes.
But Penn’s secondary had one of its strongest games of the season. Senior cornerback Kevin Ijoma, who was benched in last week’s 43-21 loss against Yale, nearly had an interception and kept a rotating assignment of Brown receivers mostly quiet. Senior cornerback Dan Wilk was avoided for much of the afternoon.
Once again, though, Penn’s defense failed to force a turnover — it hasn’t generated a takeaway in Ivy play —, and the Quakers’ offense was unable to do much with the opportunities it was able to create for itself.
Two plays before Ferens’ drop, Torgersen badly under threw freshman receiver Justin Watson when there was nary a Brown defender within 10 yards of him. And after Rosenbauer’s rushing touchdown off a fumbled snap made it 21-7, the Quakers were stopped inside the one yard line on fourth and goal.
“This is about as frustrated as I’ve been all season,” Bagnoli said. “We certainly can play better. I’m frustrated that I can’t get this team to take the next step and continually build upon [things] week to week.
“So I’m as frustrated as I’ve been in a long time.”