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First things first for football in showdown with Crimson

Last Saturday the football team experienced a first. In the first meeting between the two schools, which have between them more than 200 seasons of football, Brown cruised to a 28-17 victory over Duquesne University. Tomorrow night's matchup with Harvard at 7:30 p.m. will mark another first for the Bears and their opponent. The game will be the first night football game ever played at Harvard Stadium.

The game carries even more significance for the participants. Brown faces a Crimson team it hasn't beaten since it shared the Ivy League title in 1999.

Prime-time games seem to have become something of a trend for the Bears. Last season the Bears squared off with Princeton at 7 p.m. on a Friday night in a game televised by ESPNU. Unfortunately, Brown could not muster any offense in a 17-3 loss.

This year, though, the Bears should be a bit more confident heading into the annual showdown with the Crimson. Last year Brown fell flat in a game the team had been gearing up for all summer. This year the Bears are coming in after a dominant win over the Dukes.

In its first game, Harvard suffered a loss to Holy Cross, 31-28, after giving up a 40-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds remaining. The Crimson featured a strong running game last week, with running back Cheng Ho rushing for 116 yards and quarterback Liam O'Hagan carrying the ball 11 times for 65 yards. Brown's run defense, led by players such as defensive end Kai Brown '08 and linebacker Eric Brewer '08, will look to repeat last week's strong performance, in which it limited the Dukes to 74 rushing yards on 25 attempts, a meager three yards per carry.

The Bears will also have to contain Harvard's passing game, which looked impressive in the Crimson's opener. Harvard's O'Hagan completed 19 of 30 pass attempts for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

In the win over Duquesne, pass coverage was one of the weak spots in Brown's performance. It allowed 300 passing yards, including one touchdown and two fourth-down conversions, which set up two scores. The secondary will look to players such as defensive back Jose Yearwood '08, who recorded an interception and a team-high eight tackles in the season opener.

Brown also hopes to see its offense replicate last week's dazzling all-around performance, which featured outstanding games from running back Dereck Knight '08 and tight end Colin Cloherty '09 as well as a solid starting debut from quarterback Michael Dougherty '09. Wideout Paul Raymond '08 was noticeably absent from the Bears' offensive attack until late in the third quarter, when Dougherty found him wide open down the sideline for a 33-yard touchdown toss, Raymond's only reception of the game. But after the outstanding play of Cloherty, who caught eight passes for 171 yards, Harvard will likely concentrate more of its pass defense on the middle of the field, a move that might free up Raymond and fellow receivers Bobby Sewall '10 and Buddy Farnham '10 for more deep plays down the sidelines.

After being named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week following his 208-yard rushing performance against Duquesne, Knight will try to carry the Bears' offense once again. Last week, he consistently found holes up the middle, after starting out with a 61-yard dash down the sideline for a touchdown on his first carry. Brown may also turn to Jonathan Edwards '09, who established himself as a running threat with 53 yards on 10 carries last week.

Saturday night marks a pivotal point early in Bruno's season. If Brown wins, it will brand itself as a force to be reckoned with in October and November. And just maybe a win under the lights will rekindle the chemistry that could lead to an Ivy League championship in 2007.


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