Sports

Football trounces Bryant Bulldogs in first-ever meeting

Donnelly passed for a career-high 339 yards and four touchdowns in the win against Bryant

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The football team put on a 505-yard offensive display in its 41-14 win Saturday against Bryant University.

The thumping secured a third consecutive undefeated non-conference season for the Bears (3-1, 0-1 Ivy) and puts the squad on good footing as it re-enters conference play next week.

Quarterback and co-captain Patrick Donnelly ’13.5 was the center of the offensive onslaught, passing for career highs of 339 yards and four touchdowns. Jordan Evans ’14 was on the receiving end of five Donnelly passes, amassing 108 yards and two touchdowns.

“After our first series on offense, I felt really good about what our offense had against their defense,” Donnelly said. “They had some trouble dealing with our tempo, our no-huddle. They lost some guys in coverage, and we took advantage of it.”

Bryant (3-3) took a 14-7 lead seven minutes into the game, but afterward it was all Bears. Bruno rattled off 34 unanswered points, scoring on all six of its first-half possessions and dominating all facets of the game.

Riding the momentum of a homecoming crowd, the Bulldogs jumped ahead early. The home team stripped Brown returner Reiley Higgins ’15 on the opening kickoff and needed only three plays to find the end zone to grab a 7-0 advantage.

The Bears countered with a quick drive of their own, using five plays, including a 34-yard touchdown pass from Donnelly to Evans, to earn their first score of the afternoon.

After the Bryant offense marched down the field for another touchdown on its second drive, the quick-strike Bruno attack was at it again. Donnelly found receiver Tellef Lundevall ’13.5 five yards to open the drive, and running back John Spooney ’14 followed it up, racing for a 27-yard gain. What looked like a short pass from Donnelly to Lundevall turned into a 55-yard touchdown when Lundevall broke a tackle and rumbled down the sideline for the long score.

Spooney — the Bears’ leading scorer — played very little after the first quarter to rest injuries he suffered in last week’s game. But the speedy back made his mark early, running for 60 yards and helping the passing attack by drawing defenders to the line with his threat to run, Head Coach Phil Estes said.

“As long as he’s in the game, people are going to try to stop Spooney,” Estes said. “We took advantage with some of the play action. … That made a big difference.”

The first quarter ended soon after another long Bruno drive culminated in a 23-yard field goal by Alexander Norocea ’14. The back-and-forth game became a one-sided affair after the Bears ramped up the offense in the second quarter, outscoring Bryant 17-0.

Early in the quarter, Donnelly and company made their fourth trip deep into Bulldogs territory. To cap the drive, Donnelly fired a pass over the middle and connected with Evans, who bounced off defenders on his way to his second score of the day and a 10-point Bruno lead.

Running back Jordan Reisner ’14 — filling in for Spooney — led the team on a 58-yard drive to its fourth touchdown. He punched in a fourth and goal play from the 1-yard line to extend the lead to seventeen. Norocea booted a 38-yard field goal in the final seconds of the half, and Bruno went into halftime up 31-14 and in full command.

The second half was much the same for the Bears, but it was defense that took the spotlight as the offense milked the clock with a run-heavy attack. The Bulldogs managed only 32 third-quarter yards and were unable to convert on three third-down attempts in the quarter. Safety Eric Armagost ’15 led the defensive charge, flying around the field on his way to a game-high 10 tackles.

“He came in with a mission,” Estes said of Armagost’s defensive performance. “This is the kind of game where he could get downhill and be physical because they run the ball. … He handled it like a real pro.”

Late in the third quarter, Donnelly floated a 22-yard touchdown pass to Higgins to cap an incredible day for the quarterback, who did not take a snap in the fourth quarter of the drubbing.

Second-teamers played the entire fourth quarter for Brown and mustered a goal-line stand in the last minutes to keep the Bulldogs from scoring any second-half points. Estes called the stop “enormous” for the backups’ confidence and overall team momentum going into next week.

The Bears continue their pursuit of an Ivy League title next week at Brown Stadium where Bruno has a date with Princeton under the lights. With a loss in its first conference game to Harvard three weeks ago, the team needs a winning streak if it hopes to bring home a trophy, and Estes and Donnelly said beating Bryant has set them up to do just that.

“A loss (to Bryant) would have been devastating,” Estes said. “We’re going in with a little momentum and feeling good. There’s a lot we need to fix, but we can do that.”

“Princeton is going to be a better football team than we played today,” Donnelly said. “Getting a good clean win is always a confidence booster.”

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