Sports

Football team starts strong, fails to sustain momentum

Four turnovers and missed opportunities led to the team’s third loss against Harvard

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, September 30, 2013

At practice during preparation for the Harvard matchup, Head Coach Phil Estes stressed that the key to victory would be executing Bruno’s game plan. In a 41-23 defeat marked by turnovers, missed tackles and missed opportunities, execution was the one thing Brown did not do.

Even this early in the season, the loss is a blow to Brown’s Ivy League Championship hopes, and another conference defeat would likely extinguish them. Harvard has now won 12 of the last 14 meetings between the two teams. About 17,000 spectators attended the game at Harvard Stadium Saturday.

In a fashion similar to last year’s meeting, the Bears (1-1, Ivy 0-1) jumped to an early lead, scoring on their second and third drives and controlling the ball throughout the half.

The Bears came out of the locker room with enthusiasm, and Estes complemented the spirit with bold decisions early on. After a 13-play, 78-yard drive culminated in John Spooney ’14 scoring, the Bears unsuccessfully went for two on a fake extra point. Undeterred by the previous play, Estes called for an onside kick, and the Bears caught the Crimson (2-0, Ivy 1-0) off guard with a recovery by Will Quigley ’16. These two plays showed Estes’ willingness to deviate from typical play in order to seize an advantage.

Bruno utilized its momentum in another scoring drive immediately following the onside kick. By the end of the first quarter, the offense had been on the field for 10:44, dominating time of possesion and wearing down the Harvard defense.

But just as quickly as they built momentum in the first quarter, the Bears lost it in the second with a series of turnovers. After Crimson quarterback Connor Hempel led a scoring drive with 26 rushing yards and a touchdown run, Nnamdi Obukwelu recovered a Spooney fumble, leading to another Harvard touchdown in just two plays.

Bruno squandered an opportunity to respond, which became a recurring theme for the rest of the game. On the next drive, Donnelly’s interception gave Harvard its first lead of the game, which it did not relinquish.

Earlier in the second quarter, Bruno had missed an opportunity to extend a drive and potentially add to its lead after a third down conversion was nullified by an illegal formation penalty. Down 38-20 early in the fourth quarter, Bruno failed to score a touchdown after having  first-and-goal on Harvard’s two — ending any hope of a comeback.

In addition, Estes noted a lack of protection from Brown’s offensive line and missed tackles as contributing factors for the loss, adding that the team needs to work on these areas in practice next week. Bruno will have to focus on these two categories to remain in the Ivy League hunt.

While the overwhelming sentiment after the game was disappointment, the Bears’ running game and special teams performed well. Spooney followed up his return to football with a second consecutive 100-yard game. He finished as the game’s leading rusher with 110 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown run.

Even without a big return from Alex Jette ’17 this week, the special teams performed well, recovering both the onside kick and a fourth quarter punt that careened off a Harvard player.

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