Sports

Bears look to finish in second place

By
Sports Editor
Thursday, November 17, 2011

After an upsetting loss to Dartmouth last weekend, the football team is looking to end its season on a high note tomorrow with a victory on the road against a winless Columbia squad. Last week’s loss eliminated Bruno (7-2, 4-2 Ivy) from contention for the Ivy title, but the team can secure a second-place finish with a victory over the Lions (0-9, 0-6).

Though Columbia has been struggling, Head Coach Phil Estes said the Bears need to focus on their own performance and not take their opponents lightly if they want to close out the year with a win.

“We don’t make it about them. It’s more about how we need to win this game,” Estes said. “They’re good enough to beat us, that’s for sure.”

Lions’ junior quarterback Sean Brackett is one of Columbia’s most dangerous weapons, according to Estes. As a first-year in the 2009 matchup, Brackett rushed for 171 yards and passed for 151 more in a 28-14 win over the Bears.  

Against Cornell (4-5, 2-4) last weekend, Brackett threw for a career-high 409 yards and four touchdowns. He now has a total of 37 touchdown passes in his career, the second-highest in Columbia history. “He’s healthy and playing pretty well,” Estes said. “We’re going to have our hands full.”

Defensively, the Lions also pose a threat, Estes said, citing Columbia’s 18 sacks — the second-most in the league. Linebacker Josh Martin leads the Lions’ potent pass rush with seven sacks.  

But Brown leads the Ivy League in scoring defense, allowing only 16.25 points per game. Outside linebacker Daniel Smithwick ’12 leads the Bears in both tackles (68) and interceptions (three).

On the other side of the ball, quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero ‘11.5 has been an anchor for the team all season, throwing for an average 232.7 yards per game. Last week against the Big Green (4-5, 3-3), Newhall-Caballero had 252 yards through the air and also threw a key interception in the end zone late in the game.

Such costly errors are what Estes hopes the team improves upon tomorrow, he said. “We just have to clean things up,” he said. “We shoot ourselves in the foot with penalties and mistakes.”

With a win tomorrow, the Bears would end their season with an 8-2 record and a second-place finish in the Ivy League. Only nine other Brown teams since 1955 have won over seven games in a season.  

“An 8-2 season would be a very, very good job by this football team,” Estes said. “We just need to go out on a winning note.”

Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. at Columbia.