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Brown-Harvard game to rouse fans Saturday

For fans of Brown football, the Harvard game is something different. Hosting the Crimson means a thunderous Brown Stadium with filled bleachers, national television cameras, tailgates, rowdy student sections, banks of lights - and often, a tough fight for a pair of Ivy adversaries competing for the conference crown.
Harvard's squad (1-0), which mounted a comeback to win its non-league opener against University of San Diego (0-1) last week 28-13, will return to the Bears' home field for Saturday evening's homecoming game.
"It's a rival," said Head Coach Phil Estes, referring to the Crimson. "And (we) may not even be Harvard's rival. But because of the close proximity, because it's Harvard, it's a game that the guys get up for."
And the fervor surrounding clashes between the two squads has grown in recent years. Bruno's first-ever night game was against the Crimson two years ago, and Saturday's contest will be the Bears' third under the lights.
This year, there will be some added fireworks for the affair at Brown Stadium. A new video scoreboard installed over the summer will be officially unveiled tomorrow, and the NBC Sports Network will televise the game nationally.
"Every year, it's a big game," said tailback Spiro Theodhosi '13. "Obviously, we're excited to get back into Ivy play."
        Theodhosi lent a strong hand helping Bruno topple College of the Holy Cross last weekend, rushing for 120 yards. Before last Saturday, he had not taken to the field since November 2009, when an ACL injury left him stuck on the sidelines for two seasons. His comeback performance earned him the New England Football Writers Gold Helmet Award as the region's top Division I player in the area this week.
"I've had some hardships with my two ACL injuries, but I really appreciate getting that award," Theodhosi said. "I think it's a great honor."
He will be challenged by a Crimson defense that held San Diego to 35 rushing yards on 10 attempts and is led by a "terrific defensive line," Estes said.
"Not only are they physical, but they're very fast and agile," he said.
Those abilities showed during the game against San Diego, in which the Crimson's starting defensive linemen had a combined 16 tackles and five sacks. They'll be backed up by an all-senior linebacker corps, all three of whom caused damage against Brown last year - Joshua Boyd forced a fumble, Alexander Norman recovered one, and captain Bobby Schneider recorded an interception and a sack.
Theodhosi noted that the Crimson's defensive strength up front relieves their secondary from having to pressure the quarterback.
 "Our defense kept us in the game" for the first half of the San Diego matchup, wrote Harvard Head Coach Tim Murphy in an email to The Herald. Offensively, it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Crimson found its rhythm - but when it did, it piled up 21 unanswered points.
"Down 13-7 in the fourth quarter we showed tremendous poise and resiliency by reeling off three consecutive TD drives to put the game away," Murphy wrote.
Two of those drives were hammered home by senior running back Treavor Scales, who earned Ivy League co-offensive player of the week honors after gaining 173 yards on 19 carries along with those two scores.
Senior quarterback Colton Chapple accounted for two more touchdowns with the help of senior tight end Kyle Juszczyk and junior tight end Cameron Brate.
"I think that their two tight ends are probably two of the best in the league," Estes said. "And their quarterback was the same guy that beat us last year" with 207 passing yards and two touchdowns.
And despite an admirable fourth-quarter performance last weekend, Harvard's bout with San Diego may not have represented the Crimson at its best, Estes added.
"I think that Harvard probably had the same kind of woes that we had offensively" against Holy Cross, he said.
The Bears, too, were not firing on all cylinders until late in last week's game, whipping up two fourth-quarter touchdowns to grab the victory.
"We couldn't get it clicking in the first half, but it's almost good that it happened," said quarterback Patrick Donnelly '13. Falling behind Holy Cross brought out Bruno's resilience and toughness, he added - "we found out a lot about ourselves."
"I think that everyone learned the speed of the game now and what to expect on any given Saturday," Estes said, though he added that the Bears need to step up their level of play as they re-enter the Ivy arena.
"(We learned) that we've got to play better. That we've got to execute better. That we can't shoot ourselves in the foot, we can't have penalties and setbacks," he said. "(The Crimson are) a good football team, and they're going to give us a hell of a game."
Murphy paralleled Estes' regard for the matchup. "Brown is always an extremely tough Ivy opener for us because they are very talented, tough and well-coached," he wrote. "On top of that we are always the biggest game on Brown's schedule, a homecoming game, so the intensity level is unusually high for an early season game."
Theodhosi said he and his teammates would try to balance that increased intensity on game day.
"We're looking forward to this game," Theodhosi said. "But at the same time, we don't over-hype it. For us, it's just another in-league game. And for us, it's just another step closer, if we win, to winning the Ivy League."
Donnelly echoed his running back's message and said the Bears must remain focused amid the thrill of the team's home opener.
"There's a certain energy about the game," he said. "But at a certain point, you just have to get out there and play some football."


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