Bruno's 21-16 loss to Dartmouth at Brown Stadium and a Harvard win over Penn Saturday spelled the end of the Bears' chance at gaining a share of the Ivy League Championship in 2011.
"We needed to win the next two," said Head Coach Phil Estes.
"That's been that way since we lost to Harvard," he added. "We lose one of these, and we're in the situation we're in right now. We're working now for second place."
The day's results leave Brown (7-2, 4-2 Ivy) in a three-way tie for second place with Yale (5-4, 4-2) and Penn (5-4, 4-2). The Crimson (8-1, 6-0) clinched the title outright with one game remaining on the schedule. The championship is Harvard's 14th in Ivy history and sixth under Head Coach Tim Murphy.
The Big Green (4-5, 3-3) controlled the clock with a devastating rushing attack led by running back Nick Schwieger, Dartmouth's all-time leading rusher. Schwieger picked up 137 yards on 37 carries, including a number of key third- and fourth-down conversions late in the game. In the second half, Dartmouth held the ball for 20:34 to Brown's 9:26.
"They really did a great job of controlling the game," Estes said. "There was nothing flashy, and it was a grind."
"They did a great job of even keel and moved the football and did exactly what they had to do to win this football game," he added.
"Brown's got a stifling defense," Schwieger said. "We knew it was going to be a real big fight in the trenches, and I thought that our offensive line did a great job. I thought we converted some third downs when we had to and we went to our bread and butter to do it."
Brown quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11.5 threw for 252 yards and a touchdown, but also threw an interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. The Dartmouth defense was able to keep the Brown rushing attack in check, holding Mark Kachmer '13 to 23 yards rushing on eight carries and John Spooney '14 to 12 yards on five carries.
The Bears opened up the scoring in the second quarter on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Newhall-Caballero to Alex Tounkara-Kone '11.5 with 6:04 left in the half. Tounkara-Kone, who finished with six catches for 71 yards, caught a pass at the five-yard line before shaking a tackle and diving into the end zone.
But Dartmouth answered right back. With only 18 seconds remaining before halftime, quarterback Conner Kempe connected with Garrett Babb on a perfectly lofted 32-yard touchdown pass, dashing any Brown momentum and tying the game 7-7 as the teams headed into the locker rooms.
On the opening drive of the second half, Brown moved the ball, but a third-down pass was batted down at the line, forcing Bruno to settle for a field goal by Alex Norocea '14.
The Big Green answered and took its first lead of the game. On the drive, which culminated in a one-yard touchdown rush by Kempe, Dartmouth was 3-4 on third downs. On the one attempt they were stopped short, Kempe picked up the first on a quarterback sneak on the fourth down try.
But the lead only lasted 13 seconds. On the ensuing kickoff, Brown cornerback A.J. Cruz '13 brought the stadium to life with an 83-yard touchdown return to put Brown back on top. Cruz sprinted through the first wave of tacklers and took off down the left sideline. At the Dartmouth 15-yard line, he cut back inside and crossed the goal line just out of the reach of the final Big Green defenders. Norocea pushed the extra point attempt wide right, leaving Brown's lead at 16-14.
But again, Dartmouth answered by methodically moving the ball down the field for a score. On the drive, the Big Green were 4-4 on third down, including a conversion on third-and-10 where Schwieger caught a short pass in the flat, broke one tackle, then powered his way past the sticks with three Brown tacklers on his back. With just over 11 minutes left to play, Schwieger fittingly capped the drive with what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard rush on third-and-goal.
The Bears looked poised to regain the lead as they mounted an impressive drive that started at their own eight-yard line. But on first down from the Dartmouth 25-yard line, Newhall-Caballero's pass — intended for Tellef Lundevall '13 — was overthrown and picked off by J.B. Andreassi.
"We knew what we were going up against this week," Andreassi said. "After watching tape, I think they were the best offense in the league — definitely have the best quarterback in the league, I would say."
"We knew it was going to be a challenge, but we knew what we had in us. We knew the potential, and it all came together today," he added.
The Bears had one more shot, but went three-and-out with six minutes left in the game. Behind two more third down conversions, Dartmouth then ran the clock down to 18 seconds, and the Bears' final play of laterals was unable to produce a miracle.
"It's the biggest win of my career," Schwieger said. "It's one of those wins that can really put the program in the right direction. To go on the road and beat a legitimate Ivy League contender speaks volumes of this football team right now."
The loss snapped Bruno's six-game winning streak, but there is still much to play for next week against Columbia (0-9, 0-6). Since 1955, only nine other Brown teams have won more than seven games. The roster's 28 seniors will look to end a strong season and their careers on a high note and secure a second-place finish for the second consecutive year.