Sports

Spooney shines despite football’s loss

Newcomers Chad Berry ’16 and Troy Doles ’16 made key plays in the last home game for seniors

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, November 18, 2013

“Every time we play Brown, it’s a war,” said Dartmouth running back Dominick Pierre. Saturday’s 24-20 loss to the Big Green at home was only the latest volley.

 

What’s strong?

John Spooney ’14 is strong in every sense of the word. The tailback who usually awes us with speed and long breakaway runs put other impressive elements of his game on display Saturday: strength and physicality. Being between the tackles is a hard place for a skinny guy under six feet tall, but Spooney proved he belonged. The trenches were no match for Spooney as he busted through arm tackles and carried bodies on his way to 166 rushing yards.

“He’s a very physical guy,” said Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens. “Obviously he’s an elite runner, but he can take a hit. He just hops up and keeps coming.”

Spooney became the Ivy League’s leading rusher with his 90-yard runs this season, but he kept that title Saturday with consistency. The running back carried the ball a whopping 27 times against Dartmouth — three times more than all other Bruno players combined — and kept up an average of over six yards per carry.

If you are tired of Spooney showing up in the “What’s Strong?” section, imagine how opposing defenses feel.

 

What’s wrong?

As Spooney continues to impress, the passing game has withered down the stretch. It’s hard to pinpoint the blame for the faulty attack. Quarterback Patrick Donnelly ’13.5 has missed a handful of receivers with high throws, including sailing an open Brian Strachan ’14 on a crucial fourth down in the final minute of the game. Head Coach Phil Estes said Donnelly’s struggles are the result of him feeling “antsy” in the pocket which leads to checking down to receivers in the flat instead of looking down the field. Tellef Lundevall ’13.5, an All-Ivy wideout and Donnelly’s favorite target last season, has been battling injuries and under-producing in recent weeks, totaling a combined 32 receiving yards with just four yards per reception in the two games.

Whether it is Donnelly, Lundevall, the offensive line or something else, the passing attack has been unable to complement Spooney. This hurt the Bears most during their possessions in Yale territory last week. Bruno marched across midfield seven times, but left with only 20 points. A one-dimensional offense kept them out of the end zone despite their opportunities.

 

What’s new?

While much was made of the graduating seniors, Saturday’s game featured big plays by some new names. Chad Berry ’16 and Troy Doles ’16 each found a way to make an impact in only their second season of college football.

In Dartmouth’s first possession after Bruno had taken a 17-14 lead in the third quarter, Berry stalled the drive. Facing a third and six, Big Green quarterback Dalyn Williams attempted to scramble, but Berry ran him down for a sack. Berry wasn’t finished, though. In the fourth trailing 21-20, the Bears needed a defensive stop on third down, while Dartmouth needed only two yards to continue the drive. Berry made sure Bruno won that battle, meeting running back Kyle Bramble in the backfield for a loss of one. Stay tuned for the sophomore linebacker to get his name called a lot in coming years.

Doles is a talented receiver, and Estes said the team has “been waiting for this (performance) out of Doles for a while.” After Bruno fell behind 14-0 in the second quarter, Doles gave the Bears a shot in the arm. On a low, bouncing kickoff, Doles scooped the ball and took off like a rocket. Doles found a seam up the middle, and then bounced to the sideline, running 60 yards before Dartmouth could knock him out of bounds at the Big Green’s 32 yard line. The Bears took advantage of the field position with a touchdown a few plays later. Doles got another chance to start the last drive of the game. This time a booming kickoff sent Doles back to his own four-yard line, but he broke loose for a 31-yard return, one tackler away from taking it all the way. The field position set up a good last effort for the Bears, but they fell short on a turnover on downs.