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Breaking down the Bears: the aerial attack, front lines

A high-flying passing game and consistency in the ‘trenches’ have been the team’s strengths

The football team wrecked an in-state rival for the second consecutive week Saturday afternoon, defeating Bryant University (3-3, NEC 1-0) by a convincing 27-point margin, 41-14. Despite early struggles on both sides of the ball, the Bears (3-1, Ivy 0-1) finished with more than 500 yards of total offense and held the Bulldogs scoreless after the first seven minutes of the game. Here is a breakdown of Bruno’s dominant effort.


What’s strong

The short passing game, a staple of the Bears’ offensive attack, picked up right where it left off last week. Tellef Lundevall ’13.5 and Jordan Evans ’14 led the receiving corps with 112 and 108 yards, respectively.

After subtracting one big play from each receiver, Lundevall averaged 9.5 yards per catch, Evans averaged 16.5 and tight end Andrew Marks ’14 averaged 7.5 yards. The quick hits, usually in the form of screen passes and out routes along the sidelines, allowed Bruno to move the ball down the field efficiently, eat time off the clock and gain first downs.

Solid offensive line play provided the impetus for this success. The front five have had their ups and downs this season — they gave up two sacks at Harvard and handicapped the running game last weekend against the University of Rhode Island.

Today, the unit allowed no sacks and gave quarterback and co-captain Patrick Donnelly ’13.5 time in the pocket to find open receivers. It also helped the three-headed rushing attack of John Spooney ’14, Andrew Coke ’16 and Jordan Reisner ’14 combined for 153 total rushing yards.

On the other side of the ball, the front seven played their best game of the season, as six different players each chipped in a sack. In addition to his first-quarter sack, Ade Oyalowo ’14 stopped wide receiver Jordan Harris on a reverse for a loss of six yards to force a punt on the next drive. Safety Eric Armagost ’15 was in effect part of the front seven for most of the game and led the team with ten tackles.


What’s wrong

For the third week in a row, the return game has been underwhelming. Inexplicably, Alex Jette ’17 — who earned honors as Ivy League Rookie of the Week against Georgetown for his big gains on punt returns — has not returned a punt since the first week of the season.

Reiley Higgins ’15 has performed much better on kickoffs than punts, but he has taken all punt returns since week two, averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt. Giving punt return duties back to Jette will give the Bears better field position after big defensive stops.

Penalties plagued the Bears early in the game. In the first quarter, the Bears committed four penalties — two clips, one for offsides and one for unsportsmanlike conduct. Combined with a lost fumble, Bruno’s miscues could have given Bryant all of the early momentum.

Luckily for Bruno, the Bulldogs made the same mistakes. Bryant squandered its own drives early on by committing costly penalties and finished the game with eight.

Brown’s pass defense was suspect early on and allowed Harris to reel in some big gains in the first quarter. The Bulldogs strayed away from the passing game as time went on, either because of adjustments by the Bruno defense or misguided play-calling.


What’s new

In addition to the short passing game, Evans added big plays of 34 and 42 yards. If he can keep using his speed and athleticism to make big plays, he will complement Lundevall’s physical style and make it difficult for opponents to create an effective game plan to stop the passing attack.

Armagost turned in perhaps Bruno’s best individual defensive effort of the season against Bryant. The official record credited the defensive back with ten tackles, but it appeared that he had even more.

On more than one Bryant third-quarter drive, Armagost seemed to be involved in every play, either by standing up a running back or laying a big hit on a receiver. If not in on the action, Armagost was only a few strides away.

“The defense was getting pretty hyped,” Armagost said. “You could feel the energy when you were out there.”

This kind of energy is just what the Bears will need when they dive back into Ivy League play against Princeton (3-1, 1-0) next weekend.


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