Sports

Bears finish second winless Ivy League season in a row

Football falls to Dartmouth 49-7 on road, finishes year 1-9 overall with lone win against Georgetown

By
Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, November 18, 2018

Ryan Putnam ’21 makes a tackle against Penn in a 13-7 defeat Oct. 27. Linebacker Daniel Aidman ’19 led the Bears in tackles this season with 91, while defensive lineman Michael Hoecht ’20 led in sacks with 3.5.

More than two years ago, the football team walked off Memorial Field in Hanover, New Hampshire as winners following a 24-21 victory over Dartmouth. That was the last time that the Bears won an Ivy League football game. In the last 737 days, Brown has been on the losing end of 15 straight conference matchups, with the most recent defeat coming in a 49-7 rout against the Big Green Saturday. When the team walked off Memorial Field again this weekend, it did so having completed its second straight 0-7 season in the Ivy League, and capped off one of the most fruitless periods for the Bears in the past half century.

“This season has shown me that college football is a team game and all 11 guys have to do their job on every play to be successful,” wrote quarterback Michael McGovern ’21 in a statement to The Herald. “This season was tough, but I’m proud to lead and play next to my brothers out there.”

The game followed a familiar script for the Bears — one that haunted the team in brutal losses to Cornell and Columbia earlier in the season. The Bears played well enough in the first half to stay in the game, only to collapse in the second. Despite the loss, players spoke highly of their teammates’ commitment.

The seniors “are some of the best examples of dedication and perseverance that I have ever witnessed,” McGovern wrote. The offensive line “made a lot of sacrifices to protect the running backs and me. … Every time they go out and give it their all and I’m proud to play behind them.”

I am “really proud of how the guys went out and competed every Saturday for 60 minutes,” even though the team occasionally lacked a solid running and passing game during the season, wrote tight end Anton Casey ’19 in a statement to The Herald. Dartmouth utilized a dual-quarterback system, featuring Derek Kyler and Jared Gerbino. In just their second drive of the game, the Big Green drove down to the one, and Gerbino faked a run but passed to a wide open Connor Rempel in the endzone to take an early touchdown lead.

The Bears, meanwhile, were able to move the ball early on but had back-to-back drives stall on failed fourth down conversions. Bruno’s only points came on special teams, as Dartmouth muffed a punt that Brown recovered in the endzone. This potentially momentum-shifting play tied the game at seven and put the Bears in position to secure an upset. But it was not meant to be.

The Bears played with high energy in the first half against a Big Green squad that seemingly underestimated them, as Bruno’s defense was able to get crucial fourth down stops and even force a fumble by Gerbino. Though, with just 16 seconds left in the half, Kyler found Drew Hunnicutt on a slant in the endzone to give the Big Green a 13-7 lead at halftime.

Dartmouth picked up right where it left off to start the second half, as Gerbino and Rashaad Cooper gashed Brown’s defense with numerous long runs. Cooper capped off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown gallop to extend the lead for the Big Green.

With the score, Bruno’s chances for victory evaporated. Dartmouth scored touchdowns on each of its first five drives of the half, to bring its final offensive output to 49 points after earning only seven near the end of the second quarter.

Brown simply could not match the Big Green’s offensive explosion and was shut out in the final two quarters. While Dartmouth scored on nearly all of its second-half possessions, the Bears punted four times, threw two interceptions, fumbled once and had another turnover on downs.

When the final whistle sounded, Dartmouth had outgained Brown in total yards 526-248 and first downs 29-16. The Bears were unable to run the ball effectively all season, and displayed this trend again Saturday as the Big Green rushed for 365 yards and Bruno ran backwards for negative 23 yards. McGovern finished the game throwing 34-55 with 271 yards and a pair of interceptions.

This loss caps one of the most disappointing football seasons in the program’s history. The Bears only won one game this season, dominating Georgetown University 35-7 in September. Brown’s 1-9 record this year marks the first time that the Bears have won fewer than two games since the team went 0-10 in 1992. The Bears have gone 0-7 in the conference before, but they have never done so two years in a row. Since Ivy League football became standardized in 1956, the only other team in the Ancient Eight to have experienced consecutive 0-7 seasons is Columbia.

“We have to understand that this family is what takes the field on Saturdays and playing for each other is all that matters,” McGovern wrote.

When the team takes the field again next fall, only its seniors will know the feeling of an Ivy League victory. This makes for a long offseason for all of Brown’s players and fans, as the clock keeps ticking since the team’s last conference win in 2016.

“Nine of the 11 offensive starters are returning next year, which is huge in terms of experience,” Casey wrote. “The spring will allow these guys to gel and effectively play better as a unit next fall.”

“We have to stick together and work for each other and rebuild this program,” McGovern wrote. “The work towards next season starts right now.”