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Football team crushes Columbia on Senior Day, ties for second in league

In the final game of the 2010 football season, the Bears jumped out to a 28-0 lead over Columbia (4-6, 2-5 Ivy League) by halftime and never looked back, posting a dominant 38-16 victory on Senior Day at Brown Stadium.

The win gives Bruno a final record of 5-2 in the Ivy League (6-4 overall), good enough for a three-way tie for second place with Harvard and Yale. Penn, who defeated Brown 24-7 on Oct. 30, took home the Ivy crown after a 31-7 demolition of Cornell to cap an undefeated conference record for the Quakers.

"I really enjoyed this group of seniors and their leadership, hard work and toughness," said Head Coach Phil Estes after the win. "All the things that we recruit at Brown, they brought it out this year in this team."

The victory was a fitting end to the collegiate careers of the 26 seniors playing in their final game. The class of 2011 has a remarkable resume: 18-9 in Ivy League games, four winning records in conference play and a 2008 league championship.

"You can't ask for much better than that," Estes said.

Brown took charge of the game right from the outset. On their first drive, the Bears marched right down the field for an opening score. Two big plays by receiver Alex Tounkara '11 — a 31-yard reception and a 15-yard gain on a reverse — moved the ball inside the Columbia 20-yard line, which led to a 1-yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Mark Kachmer '13. The score was the sophomore's eighth rushing touchdown of the season.

"We've had some problems on our first drives this season," said quarterback Joe Springer '11, who threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns. "We always want to emphasize coming out strong and really set the tone for the game, especially when we get the opening kickoff. We did well, marched right down the field and were in rhythm the whole time. "

Brown added to its lead toward the end of the first quarter after a Columbia punt. A 33-yard rush by Kachmer was the key play on the drive, which ended with an 8-yard rushing score by Jimmy Saros '12 on a reverse. Saros hit one hole before breaking through a weak arm tackle and cruised into the end zone standing up. At the end of the first quarter, Brown had out-gained Columbia 174 yards to 9.

Early in the second quarter, Brown picked off Columbia quarterback Jerry Bell (5-19 for 11 yards) for the second time. Bell was under heavy pressure, and in an attempt to dump the ball off to his running back, threw a pass right into the arms of linebacker Matthew O'Donnell '12, who took the ball back to the Columbia 23-yard line.

Bruno made quick work of the short field. On third and goal, Springer connected with Tellef Lundevall '13 for a 7-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 21-0. Springer was forced out of the pocket and evaded two tacklers to keep the play alive before finding a diving Lundevall near the right pylon for a spectacular catch.

The Bears' fourth touchdown of the half came on a long score from Springer to tight end Alex Prestley '11. The offensive line gave Springer lots of time in the pocket before he found Prestley at the 15-yard line. The senior tight end out-leaped two defenders to pull down the tough catch, then broke free and rumbled into the end zone for a 48-yard score to extend the lead to 28-0. By halftime, the yardage differential was 279-34 in favor of Brown, and the game seemed all but out of reach for Columbia.

But in the second half, Columbia looked poised to make the game interesting. Quarterback Sean Brackett, who normally starts for the Lions but sat out the first half due to a hamstring injury, replaced Bell and breathed life into his team. Though his injury took his running abilities out of the attack, he threw the ball extremely well to set up two third-quarter Columbia touchdowns.

Down 31-13, Columbia found itself inside the Brown 10-yard line and looked ready to cut the lead to a two-score deficit with an entire quarter to play. But the Brown defense came up big. Brackett's pitch to running back Nick Gerst was mishandled and fumbled, and Phil Roffi '11 scooped up the loose ball to keep the Lions out of the end zone.

After a Columbia field goal made the score 31-16, Brown put the game away with a devastating eight-minute drive. Starting at its own 27-yard line with 9:19 to play, running backs Kachmer and Zach Tronti '11 chewed up huge chunks of yardage to move the ball downfield while burning the clock. On fourth and 2 from the 5-yard line, two of Brown's unheralded seniors iced the win in their final game, as quarterback Ryley Hegarty '11 handed the ball off to fullback Kasey McCurdy '11, who plowed over the goal line for the score.

On Columbia's next possession, the Bruno defense ended its season in a fitting manner, logging a sack and twice jarring the ball loose from Columbia receivers on huge hits over the middle.

"We preach hitting hard and knocking the ball out," said linebacker and tri-captain Andrew Serrano '11. "We came out there and we weren't going to let them get a first down. We wanted to finish the game the right way."

After the game, Estes was full of praise for his team and the way the players finished a season riddled with injuries and adversity.

"We talked about not being individuals and being a team, and I think that's truly what we did this year," Estes said. "We were a football team together right from the start and right to the end. I'm very proud of them and what they accomplished… they've got nothing to be ashamed of."


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