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Football decks Dukes, 28-17, to start season with a boom

Everything clicked for the football team on Saturday. Despite a new starting quarterback, a new starting running back and a defense sans star player Zak DeOssie '07, the Bears gained 510 yards on offense and forced three turnovers to hold Duquesne University in check as the Bears rolled to a 28-17 victory.

The game saw an impressive debut from quarterback Michael Dougherty '09, as well as breakout performances from tri-captain running back Dereck Knight '08 and tight end Colin Cloherty '09.

The offense wasted no time giving Brown a lead. On just the second play from scrimmage, Knight took the handoff from Dougherty and broke to the outside for a 61-yard touchdown run to put Bruno up 7-0.

"There were some great blocks up front," Knight said. "The receivers cut down the cornerbacks, and I was able to get to the edge."

Duquesne hit back on its second drive of the game. On 4th-and-7, at the Brown 33-yard line, the Dukes completed a 13-yard pass for a first down to keep the drive alive. On their next series, they moved the ball to Brown's 17-yard line to set up a 35-yard field goal attempt, which Mark Troyan converted to cut the Bears' lead to 7-3 with 7:27 left in the first quarter.

Led by Dougherty, the Bears responded quickly on their next drive. With the ball at the Duquesne 44, Dougherty found Cloherty wide open over the middle. Cloherty caught the ball in stride and ran untouched into the end zone, widening the Bears' lead to 14-3.

On the ensuing kickoff, Duquesne kick returner Bill Poletti broke toward the sideline and appeared to have a clear path to the end zone, but kicker Steve Morgan '08 tripped him up at the Duquesne 31, saving a touchdown.

The next score came on a Duquesne drive in the second quarter, when the Dukes drove 81 yards in a little over two minutes. They advanced the ball to the Brown 14-yard line with complete passes of 25 and 20 yards, as well as a quarterback keeper for 21 yards. With 7:19 left in the half, Kevin Rombach completed a 14-yard pass to Bruce Hocker, cutting Bruno's lead to 14-10.

On the ensuing drive, Brown moved the ball to the Duquesne 6-yard line on a 35-yard completion from Dougherty to Cloherty. When runs by Knight and Dougherty moved the ball to the 1-yard line, the Bears looked poised to open up an 11-point lead.

But on 3rd-and-goal, with 21 seconds left in the half, Knight was stripped of the ball on an attempted leap into the end zone, and Brown went into halftime with a 14-10 lead.

In the third quarter, the Dukes threatened to take the lead at the outset, but the Bears regained possession of the ball when Frank Nuzzo '09 recovered a fumble by Duquesne receiver Jay Spinks at the Brown 18.

With 2:24 left in the third quarter and the ball at the Duquesne 33-yard line, Dougherty drew the secondary to the middle of the field with a play-action fake, then found receiver Paul Raymond '08 wide open down the sideline for his second touchdown pass of the game, to increase the lead to 21-10.

Brown continued to expand its lead in the fourth quarter, when it moved the ball up the field with a 27-yard completion to Cloherty and strong play from the offensive line, which opened up holes for running backs Knight and Jonathan Edwards '09. With 11:05 remaining in the game and the ball on the 11-yard line, Dougherty fired a bullet to the end zone to Buddy Farnham '10 in double coverage, for Dougherty's third touchdown pass of the game.

"For his first game, Michael was great," said Head Coach Phil Estes.

On the following drive, Duquesne continued to move the ball up the field with its passing game, completing a 26-yard pass on 4th-and-20, to move the ball to the Brown 10, the second time the Dukes converted a 4th-and-long opportunity.

"We have to tighten up our coverage," Estes said. "In those situations, you want to keep the receivers in front of you, to a point. But our coverage today was just too loose."

That play set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge, which pulled Duquesne to within 11 points.

After Brown was forced to punt, Duquesne drove 34 yards to the Brown 45, but with 3:46 remaining, tri-captain linebacker Eric Brewer '08 laid a huge hit on receiver Dennis Void to force a fumble, which was scooped up by lineman James Develin '10 at the Brown 39. Both teams failed to score for the remainder of the game, and the Bears came away with the win, 28-17.

Knight's 208 rushing yards on 33 carries came within five yards of his season total from 2006. After his touchdown run to open the game, he continued to find holes in the line, allowing the Bears to move the ball up the field and keep his team's defense rested, as the Bears controlled possession for 34 minutes of the 60-minute game.

"Dereck did an outstanding job," Estes said. "He did what we thought he could do."

Cloherty also had an excellent game, catching eight passes for 171 yards, a career high.

"I feel like it was a real sporadic day at times," Dougherty said. "I like throwing to everyone, but I just happened to keep finding Colin wide open."

Despite the win, Estes was critical of many aspects of the team's performance following the game, particularly Brown's nine penalties for 79 yards.

"The penalties kept some drives alive for Duquesne, and put us in bad field position," he said.

Next Saturday night, Brown will face Harvard, which fell 31-28 to Holy Cross in its first game on Saturday.

"We have a lot of cleaning up to do," Estes said. "It'll be good to watch this game on film, see what we did well and what needs work."


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