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Football loses despite strong passing

Dougherty '09 threw for 526 yards

Saturday was a career day for quarterback and co-captain Michael Dougherty '09, who set an Ivy League game record by throwing for 526 yards on the day. But unfortunately for the Bears, that performance came in a loss for the football team, as Holy Cross's offense overpowered Brown, 41-34. The loss was the second in a row for the Bears, whose record is now at 2-2 (1-0 Ivy). Dougherty earned Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance.

After forcing Brown to punt on the game's first drive, the Crusaders took over with the ball on their own 47-yard line. They quickly moved the ball down the field with an eight-play drive that culminated in a one-yard touchdown run by running back Terrance Gass.

On the ensuing drive, Dougherty found receiver Trevan Samp '10 for a 21-yard completion, but on the next series the Bears were forced to punt again.

Samp had the best game of his collegiate career, making four receptions for 76 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

On just the third play of the next drive, Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph found receiver Jon Brock for a 57-yard touchdown to put the Crusaders up 14-0, just over seven minutes into the first quarter.

Randolph had his way with the Brown defense all day, completing 41 of 54 passes for 430 yards and four touchdowns. He has been a thorn in the side of Brown defenses for the past three seasons, throwing for 404 yards in six touchdowns in a 48-37 win over Bruno in 2007 and 329 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-30 win over the Bears the previous season. On Saturday, the Holy Cross running game was also effective - the Crusaders gained 141 yards on the ground.

"Because of the way our defense is designed, a missed assignment, alignment or miscommunication by a defender will create holes in our defense," linebacker Miles Craigwell '09, who led the Bears with eight total tackles, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. "We just have to eliminate our critical errors, do what is assigned, and we'll be alright."

With Brown trailing by two touchdowns, Nkosi Still '09 gave the team a spark with a 26-yard kickoff return. With his team in good field position, Dougherty went to work, completing all seven of his passes on the drive, with the seventh completion going for a two-yard touchdown to receiver Bobby Sewall '10 to cut the deficit to 14-7.

But the defense had no answer for Randolph, who took the Crusaders 83 yards in just eight plays, the last of which was a 33-yard touchdown throw to Brock to widen the Holy Cross lead to 21-7.

Dougherty's precision passing attack continued to keep the Bears in the game. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Dougherty threw a 24-yard completion to tight end Colin Cloherty '09 to move the ball to the Brown 44. Dougherty kept the drive alive with two third-and-long completions in Holy Cross territory to receiver Matt Sudfeld '11 and Cloherty. Then, on first-and-10, with the ball on the 13, Dougherty connected with Samp for his second touchdown pass of the day, cutting the Crusaders' lead to 21-14.

"They had a huge weakness in their passing (defense) and we wanted to exploit that," Dougherty wrote in an e-mail to the Herald. "We were also behind for most of the game so we had to make up some ground and get some quick scores in the air."

Randolph continued to dominate, though, completing five of his six passes on the next drive, and expanding the lead to 28-14 with a 19-yard touchdown pass.

Yet again, the Bears fired back, when Dougherty completed six consecutive passes. The Bears came back to 28-21 on a 22-yard touchdown strike to Cloherty.

Cloherty had an outstanding game, leading all receivers with 14 catches for 166 yards, while Sewall added 10 catches for 157 yards, including two touchdowns.

With the Bears down 28-21, the Brown defense finally came up with a stop, but the offense was unable to mount a scoring drive. A Holy Cross field goal on the last drive of the half gave the Crusaders a 31-21 lead going into halftime.

The Crusaders opened the second half with another field goal drive to increase their lead to 34-21. On the next drive, the Bears moved the ball all the way down to the Holy Cross 8, but on fourth-and-two, Dougherty's pass to Sewall fell incomplete, and Bruno squandered another scoring opportunity.

On Bruno's next drive, Dougherty kept finding Sudfeld and Cloherty for long completions, and the Bears moved the ball down to the Holy Cross 10. Again, Brown found itself in a fourth-down situation in the red zone, and this time, the Bears opted to play it safe: Kicker Robert Ranney '09 kicked a 27-yard field goal to make the score 34-24.

Ranney added another field goal from 40 yards out to cut Holy Cross's lead to 34-27 with 10:06 remaining in the game, but Randolph led an 86-yard drive that ended in a nine-yard touchdown pass with 6:46 left to play.

After the next Brown drive failed to produce any points, the defense came up with another stop, and Dougherty kept Brown's victory hopes alive with a 64-yard touchdown completion to Sewall, to make it a one-possession game again with 1:12 left. But the onside kick attempt failed, allowing Holy Cross to run out the clock and escape with the 41-34 win.

Despite the loss, the offense took pride in its performance on Saturday.

"It's frustrating anytime you lose, but I think it's good we finally got the offense back into rhythm heading into our Ivy schedule, which we haven't really done up until Saturday," Dougherty wrote.

After losing two nonleague games, the Bears will need to return to top form next weekend when they resume their Ivy League schedule at Princeton.

"The coaching staff will go back to the drawing board and formulate a defensive package best suited for Princeton's offense. It's our job to execute it, and again, eliminate the errors and just play football," Craigwell wrote. "Our team has the same confidence we had going into the season: unstoppable. We have learned from these past two losses, and are looking forward to Princeton."


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