CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When it rains, it pours. The football team made too many mistakes Friday, turning the ball over five times — including twice on the opposing goal line — in a 24-7 loss to Harvard. The Crimson (1-1, 1-0 Ivy) only outgained Bruno (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) by 14 yards, but Harvard was able to make big plays on both sides of the ball, whereas the Bears failed to capitalize on their opportunities.
"When you turn the ball over and make some dumb penalty plays … that makes the changes in the game," said Brown's Head Coach Phil Estes. "We just squandered too many opportunities."
"It's something that we have to fix," Estes added. "Our ball security is not very good right now."
The defeat came in front of a crowd of 18,585 at Harvard Stadium, including a large Brown contingent that braved torrential rain and made the one-hour trip north from Providence.
Co-captain quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11.5 could not replicate the efficiency of last week's performance against Stony Brook University that earned him Ivy League co-offensive player of the week honors. Though he threw for 269 yards, he completed only 54 percent of his passes and threw three interceptions. Running back Mark Kachmer '13 gained 157 yards from scrimmage but fumbled the football twice.
The Harvard defense forced timely turnovers and successfully pressured Newhall-Caballero, shutting down his top target, wide receiver Alex Tounkara-Kone '11.5. Tounkara-Kone, who last week had seven receptions for 149 yards and two scores, was held to three catches for 19 yards this game. Harvard credited senior Matt Hanson, its all-Ivy cornerback, with taking Bruno's leading receiver out of the game.
The Crimson opened up the scoring in the first quarter with a trick play. After moving the ball down the field, the Crimson faced a fourth and three on the Brown six-yard line. Harvard Head Coach Tim Murphy dialed up a fake field goal attempt, and the holder, quarterback Colton Chapple, tucked the ball and gained the first down. On the next play, running back Treavor Scales scored up the middle from a yard out to put Harvard up 7-0. Scales rushed for 129 yards on the day.
After a Bruno punt, Harvard doubled its lead on an 80-yard drive. With a Brown interception negated by a roughing-the-passer penalty, the Crimson were able to capitalize on the mistake. Tight end Cameron Brate pulled down a perfectly lofted pass from Chapple with one hand before falling over the goal line for the score.
Bruno's defense calmed down for the rest of the half, sacking Chapple three times. But the offense could not take advantage. Newhall-Caballero orchestrated a drive to inside the Harvard 10-yard line, but tight end Nicholas Faber '12 could not corral a slick football in the endzone. On the next play, Newhall-Caballero's pass was intercepted.
Brown finally got on the board in the third quarter as the drizzle turned into torrential rain. Skillful punting by Nathan Lovett '12 gave the Bears the advantage in the field position game, and it took Bruno only four plays to score after starting from its own 43-yard line. Newhall-Caballero connected with Tellef Lundevall '13 for a 31-yard score on a pass along the left sideline. Lundevall bulled his way over a defender and across the pylon, cutting the deficit to 14-7.
But that was the closest the Bears would get to a comeback. After marching to the Harvard one-yard line early in the fourth quarter, the game appeared set for a dramatic finish. But on a direct snap rush up the middle, Kachmer let the ball slip, and Harvard was able to recover the fumble.
Harvard punted the ball, but the Bears could not take advantage of a short field and were forced to punt.
The Crimson's next drive was the dagger as Harvard took the ball 95 yards for a touchdown, putting the game out of reach with under seven minutes left. The score came on a 56-yard pass from Chapple to a wide-open Adam Chrissis, who caught the ball without a defender within a 15 yard viscinity before running it into the endzone.
On the first play from scrimmage on Brown's ensuing drive, Newhall-Caballero was hit as he released a pass. The throw was intercepted, appropriately capping a dismal night for the Bears. Harvard ran down the clock and added a late field goal to make the final score 24-7.
One bright spot for the Bears was the play of Lovett. The East Providence native pinned the Crimson inside its own 20-yard line four times, and had a long of 56 yards.
"He was outstanding," Estes said. "Any time you can stick the ball inside the five-yard line and put their backs to the wall, it's easier for the defense. But we didn't always do a good job of keeping them there."
Brown's defense saw a strong performance from Clayton McGrath '12, whose 15 tackles — three for a loss — led the team. Cornerback Emory Polley's '14 interception was the lone forced turnover for the Bears.
Estes said the game reminded him of last year's matchup with Harvard, a 29-14 Brown victory in Brown Stadium's first-ever night game. But this time with the reversal of locations came a reversal of roles.
"They came down to our place, and we just took it to them from the first snap to the last snap," Estes said. "Basically, they just did the same thing to us. They're a good football team, and we were way out of sync."
For Harvard, the win gives them an early season boost in the race for the Ivy League crown, and just as importantly, sets a tone for the year, Murphy said.
The Bears will return to more familiar territory in their home opener Saturday against the University of Rhode Island under the lights. At stake will be the Governor's Cup, and Bruno will try to avenge last year's loss to the Rams in front of what should be a spirited home crowd.
A previous version of this article identifies punter Nathan Lovett '12 as a Providence native. In fact, he is from East Providence. The Herald regrets the error.