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Four Turnovers Sink Bulldogs at Penn

Robert Clemons III (photo by Jack Warhola)
Robert Clemons III (photo by Jack Warhola)

Clemons And Hines Combine For 11 Catches, 165 Yards In Loss

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – A career-day for senior back Austin Reuland, coupled with the comeback of receivers Robert Clemons III and Bo Hines, was not enough for a banged-up Yale football team, which fell victim to four turnovers on its way to a 34-20 loss at Penn on Friday night.

The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-2 Ivy), who have historically struggled at Franklin Field, could not overcome three interceptions by quarterback Morgan Roberts, two of which occurred in the end zone, as Penn took advantage of the mistakes.

"For us, the tale of the game was turnovers. We had a lot of opportunities that we didn't score on," said Class of 1954, Joel E. Smilow head coach Tony Reno. "We turned the ball over in the red zone, and instead of scoring, we came away with nothing."

The Quakers scored 20 points off Yale turnovers, including 13 in under one minute early in the second quarter. Roberts went 25-of-46 for 318 yards, a touchdown and three costly interceptions on the night. The Eli quarterback was under duress most of the game, taking big hits from the Penn defense.

Penn quarterback Alek Torgersen had a strong performance, going 25-for-35 for 350 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. A first-quarter fumble in the red zone was the extent of Torgersen's miscues.

"Turnovers were the difference. You have to score in this league. We knew Penn had a good offense coming in, so when you have missed opportunities and come away with nothing, it's hard to keep pace," said Reno.

Several Bulldogs needed medical attention during the game with various injuries, stretching the depth chart fairly wide throughout the contest. However, two key Eli players made their returns.

Clemons and Hines both made their comebacks after missing significant time – Clemons the last three games and Hines the last four. It didn't take long for them to make their presence felt. Clemons led Yale with six catches for 99 yards and a touchdown, while Hines finished with five catches for 66 yards.

"It was great having both of them back. We just unfortunately haven't been able to keep them both healthy at the same time this season," said Reno.

It was the play of Reuland that stuck out in the Bulldog offense. With starting back DeShawn Salter shaken up in the first quarter, the senior tailback ran for a career-high 62 yards on 12 carries with his first-career touchdown, cutting the Penn lead to 27-20 at the time.

"Considering the circumstances we face at the running back position right now, Austin carried the load for us tonight," said Reno. "I was very proud of Austin and his performance."

Penn's opening drive of the fourth quarter put Yale in a tough spot, as the Quakers drove 97 yards while taking 6:47 off the clock. It ended with a 27-yard touchdown run by tailback Tre Solomon, putting Penn ahead 34-20.

Facing a two-touchdown deficit with 8:13 left in regulation, the Bulldogs hurt themselves with holding and unnecessary roughness penalties that backed them up. Roberts' pass to Chris Williams-Lopez on 4th-and-20 came up short, giving the ball back to Penn for it to run out the clock.

"We're 4-2 after six games. In our two losses, we didn't play up to our standards. In our four wins, we protected the football really well," said Reno. "On defense, we also can't let up the big plays."

Yale moved the ball at will in the third quarter, but struggled to score. With their first two possessions of the half putting them in the red zone, both ended when Roberts threw interceptions into the end zone.

The second pick by the Quakers set-up an 80-yard drive, resulting in a 27-yard touchdown pass to Christian Pearson down the left sideline, putting Penn ahead, 27-13.

Trailing by 14 at the 5:19 mark, the Bulldogs ended the third on a strong note following a turnover on downs by Penn. Sophomore Jason Alessi tackled Solomon on a screen pass on 4th-and-4 at the Yale 32 to end the Quaker drive and give back some momentum to Yale.

On the ensuing drive, Roberts found Williams-Lopez down the middle for a 29-yard gain to jumpstart the offense. Reuland's six-yard touchdown run with seven seconds left in the quarter capped off the drive, cutting the Quaker lead in half.

Reuland's score was made possible when the Elis, facing a 4th-and-2 from the Penn 27, faked a field goal with placeholder Logan Scott taking the snap and running eight yards for a first down to continue the drive.

The Quakers outgained the Bulldogs in first half yards, 323 to 231, leading to their 20-13 advantage at intermission. Roberts went 12-of-22 for 171 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Hines had four receptions for 50 yards.

Despite a strong first quarter that resulted in a 10-0 lead for the Bulldogs, two turnovers proved costly in the second as the Quakers scored touchdowns off both Eli mistakes.

Two touchdowns by the Quakers in a 41-second period at the start of the second quarter helped Penn grab the lead from Yale. A 63-yard score from Torgersen to Pearson was the first, followed by a 17-yard strike to Solomon after Roberts was sacked and fumbled on the Yale 17. Penn led, 13-10, at the 12:57 mark.

Later in the quarter, Roberts found Clemons for a 45-yard strike down the middle to set-up an Eli scoring drive. A nine-yard reception by Hines on 3rd-and-8 eventually put junior kicker Bryan Holmes in good position for a 26-yard field goal, tying the game.

In the final three minutes of the half, the Quakers drove down for their third touchdown of the quarter on a one-yard pass from Torgersen to Ryan O'Malley.

The Bulldogs smothered the Quakers in the first quarter, dominating both sides of the ball – most importantly, at the line of scrimmage.

It was the Eli defense that stood out most in the first quarter. Yale allowed Penn just six rushing yards, while holding the Quakers to two punts and a fumble. Sophomore John Herubin recovered Penn's fumble, which occurred when Torgersen was hit on an option play by senior captain Cole Champion inside the Yale 20.

Yale scored on its first two possessions of the game, by way of a 39-yard field goal by Holmes and a 17-yard touchdown reception by Clemons.

On the nine-play, 61-yard drive that resulted in Clemons' touchdown, the Eli offensive line beautifully picked up the Penn blitz on third down as Roberts found the junior receiver slanting across the middle for the score, putting Yale ahead, 10-0.

Roberts was 9-of-13 for 109 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the first 15 minutes, with much help from his offensive line in providing him time in the pocket.

The Bulldogs will make their long-awaited return home this coming week, ending their four-game road trip with a 2-2 record. Columbia comes to Yale Bowl on Saturday for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff and the game will be televised on the Fox College Sports Network.

 

Filed by Steve Lewis, Yale Sports Publicity