In front of a nearly sellout crowd of 17,360 fans at Saturday's Homecoming game, the Bears moved to 2-0 by convincingly defeating Harvard 29-14 in the first night game in Brown Stadium's 85-year history.
"It was a great atmosphere," said Head Coach Phil Estes after the game. "I can't tell you what it meant to have so many people in the stands. It really gets the adrenaline going, and I think the team really fed off that."
"Tonight was something special," added Chimso Okoji '11. When asked if he had ever before played in front of a crowd as large and supportive as Saturday's, the senior linebacker replied, "No, not even close."
The Crimson (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) scored all their points in a 21-second span bordering halftime, but for the remaining 59 minutes and 39 seconds of the game, it was all Bruno.
The big story of the night was the Bears' defense, which smothered Harvard's high-powered attack, holding the Crimson to only 112 yards of total offense and a dismal -16 yards on the ground, which included a botched punt attempt that lost 34 yards. The front seven put pressure on Harvard quarterback Andrew Hatch all night, logging four sacks and forcing two interceptions. Hatch was continually flushed out of the pocket, and the Crimson offense was never able to get into a rhythm.
"We came into the game with a good gameplan," Okoji said. "We wanted to put a little heat on (the quarterback). We wanted to give them different looks defensively."
While the Crimson offense sputtered, the Bears were able to grind out 142 yards rushing, as they dominated time of possession and made several key third-down conversions. Running back Mark Kachmer '13 scored both of Brown's touchdowns as he found the end zone twice from short yardage.
The quarterback duties were split between starter Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11, who is still recovering from a hand injury, and last week's starter Joe Springer '11. The two combined for 154 yards through the air.
Newhall-Caballero seemed "ready to go" by Friday's practice, Estes said, but he wanted to ease in last year's First Team All-Ivy quarterback.
"Joe's been terrific, so we just decided to rotate every series, and I don't think we missed much with either one," Estes said.
Saturday night's game also saw one Bear enter the record books. Kicker Alex Norocea '14 connected on five field goals, including a 44-yard boot, to tie the Brown record for most field goals in a single game. Norocea, who put points on the board early and often, became the fourth Bear kicker in history to score five FGs. With a comfortable 15-point lead in the last minute of the game, Norocea had a chance to claim the record outright, but missed a 34-yard attempt.
Norocea's early season success — he was honored as Ivy League Rookie of the Week after the Stony Brook game — has given the Bears a tremendous boost, Estes said.
"If we get it inside the 30 (yard line) or thereabouts, he's money," Estes said. "It really does make a difference to have him there to make some big plays for us."
Norocea, who had never made five field goals in a game at any level before Saturday, focused on crediting his teammates.
"The offense put us in a good position and I just went out there and did my job and what I'm expected to do day in and day out," Norocea said.
The Bears set the tone for the game early. In an eight-minute opening drive, Brown completed four third-down conversions to set up Norocea's first field goal and claim a 3-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Bears seized control of the game as Kachmer took a direct snap and leapt over the line to give Brown a 13-0 lead. The play was set up by linebacker Robert Gillet's '11 key interception. Gillet caught Hatch's overthrown pass and weaved his way 41 yards down the sideline near the end zone pylon.
With 31 seconds left in the half, Kachmer found the end zone for the second time to cap off a long drive orchestrated by Newhall-Caballero, giving Bruno a commanding 23-0 lead.
But Harvard quickly cut the lead to 23-14, after a score in the final seconds of the first half and a kick return for a touchdown to start off the third quarter. Both touchdowns were scored by senior wide receiver Marco Iannuzzi.
This was as close as the Crimson would get. Norocea added his fourth and fifth field goals as the Brown offense controlled the clock in the second half. On Harvard's final chance to get back in the game with under five minutes left, defensive lineman John Anderson '11 batted down a fourth-down pass at the line of scrimmage, giving the ball back to Brown and elating the home crowd. On the final whistle, the Brown players stormed onto the field to celebrate the memorable win.
"They played hard-nosed, tough, and physical," said Harvard Head Coach Tim Murphy. "They were a mentally tougher and physically tougher team tonight." Estes credited his team's effort for the win in the conference opener.
"All we needed to do was be better on this Saturday than Harvard, and we went out and did that."