Sports

Bears suffer first shutout loss since 1996

By
Sports Editor
Sunday, October 14, 2012

The football team was shut out on the road Saturday, falling to the Princeton Tigers 19-0 and remaining winless in the Ivy League.
Both teams came into the weekend’s matchup in N.J. looking to extend their respective win streaks to three with a critical Ivy win.
But the Tigers (3-2, 2-0 Ivy) were seemingly out to avenge last season’s humiliating 34-0 loss to the Bears (3-2, 0-2), as their relentless defense turned the tables and kept Bruno off the scoreboard this year. The game marks the Bears’ first shutout since 1996, when they gave up 30 points to Yale in the season opener, and the first scoreless game under Head Coach Phil Estes.
“(The Tigers) were inspired – they had a reason to play,” Estes said.
With injuries racking up on a road-weary Bruno squad playing its third consecutive game away from Brown Stadium, it may have been difficult for them to remain optimistic. Both running back Spiro Theodhosi ‘12.5 and offensive lineman Jack Templeton ’13 were out with injuries and are not scheduled to return for the rest of the season.
“Do injuries hurt? Yes, but we need to get over it,” Estes said. “We’re banged up, that’s for sure, but there’s still a lot we can do. A lot of it is a mental state. We moved the ball well against Harvard, Georgetown and even at Rhody without a Theodhosi.”
The Bears rushed for 120 yards in their battle for the Governor’s Cup against the University of Rhode Island two weekends ago, with running back Mark Kachmer ’13 stepping up to collect 73 on the ground.
The offensive line struggled against Princeton, giving up six sacks. In upcoming games, Clayton Paino ’14 will need to step up at left tackle to make up for Templeton’s absence, Estes said. Despite the unit’s overall struggles, Estes said Paino played “extremely well” overall Saturday.
The injuries kept coming during the game as fullback Cody Taulbee ’14 went down in the game’s second play, challenging the Bears’ offense even further.
“We had a lot of offense going through Taulbee and Kachmer,” Estes said. “Our whole game plan had to change.”
Kachmer’s team-high 35 yards on the ground were not enough to permeate a Tigers defense that allows the second fewest rushing yards per game in the league. Bruno had averaged 164 rushing yards in its first four games.
“I always say it’s about us, not about them,” Estes said. “But you need to give credit where credit’s due. They had one of the best defensive fronts that we’ll see all year.”
But Estes added that Bruno’s injuries and a much-improved Princeton squad cannot alone explain the Bears’ poor offensive performance. “There was no excuse for us on offense,” he said. “We made mistakes that only high school teams would make.”
Estes said he thought some of the team’s unsuccessful offensive effort stemmed from a lack of confidence, but he also mentioned the players weren’t the only ones to blame. “It goes right to the coaching part. We did not prepare them well enough,” he said.
On the other side of the ball, Bruno’s defense had a decent showing, collecting four sacks and one interception. Though the Tigers’ quarterback duo of Conn Michelsen and Quinn Epperly was still able to pass for a combined 186 yards, the Bears’ greater weakness lay in their inability to stop the Princeton rush.
“Defensively, we came out slow and it was kind of disappointing,” said co-captain and defensive lineman Ross Walthall ’13. “But I think we started to get a feel for what they were doing.”
Estes said he had a similar opinion of the team’s defensive performance. “The defense played well in spurts,” he said. “We got beat not because of our defense.”
Midway through the first quarter, the Bears had their best attempt at getting on the scoreboard with a 35-yard field goal attempt by Alex Norocea ’14. But the kick went wide right, Norocea’s first miss of the season.
After receiving a pass at the Brown 20 yard line a few minutes later, Spenser Huston ran into the end zone for the Tigers’ first touchdown. Princeton extended its lead to 10-0 with a 21-yard field goal at the top of the second. On the next drive, Kachmer was tackled by Caraun Reid in the Bears’ end zone for a safety. Neither team would score again until the second half.
The last points of the game came less than five minutes into the third quarter, with the Tigers moving the ball 80 yards for a touchdown in their first possession of the half. The Bears could not gather any offensive momentum in the final two quarters, ending the game scoreless.
Explaining that the team would need to refocus itself and return to playing fundamental “football 101,” Estes said, “we need to leave the last five games behind and start a new season.”
“We have to find out what motivates us,” he added.
“It’s like we have a new mini-season,” Walthall said. “There are five games left, and there’s a lot of opportunity in those five games.”
The first of those battles will bring the Bears home for the first time in four weeks. They will face a Cornell (3-2, 1-1) squad coming off a nonconference victory against Monmouth University Saturday.

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  • Elizabeth Reiss Baecher '57

    Cornell promises to be tough, so GO BEARS!