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Dartmouth takes down football

John Spooney ’14 surpassed the century mark yet again, but the Bears came up just short

The football team fell to Dartmouth 24-20 Saturday afternoon in its final home game of the season. The match was the last in Brown Stadium for Bruno’s 26 seniors — including 19 starters — who were honored before the game.

“They mean everything to me,” said Head Coach Phil Estes. “It’s kind of bittersweet because it’s their last home game and you want them to go out winners. When you get an opportunity to coach a group of young men for four years, you create a relationship that’s going to last forever. It will be great to watch them grow up and do great things in this world.”

Running back John Spooney ’14 led the Bears with 166 yards on the ground for his fourth 100-yard rushing game in a row.

“Spooney ran as well as I’ve seen a back run,” Estes said. “I just wish we could have gotten him into the end zone. He had a couple where he almost got free.”

Tight end Andrew Marks ’14 added six receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown in the defeat, and Alex Norocea ’14 converted two field goals.

Dartmouth (5-4, Ivy 4-2) took an early lead in the second quarter with touchdowns from Robbie Anthony and Kyle Bramble. Bruno (5-4, 2-4) stormed back to score 17 unanswered points on touchdowns by Marks and Jordan Evans ’14 and a Norocea field goal midway through the third quarter.

After a Dominick Pierre touchdown for Dartmouth, the Bears and Big Green exchanged scores in the fourth, giving Brown the ball with three minutes, 15 seconds left, facing a 24-20 deficit with an opportunity for the go-ahead score. After driving across midfield, the offensive attack was not enough to keep the drive alive after a fourth down incompletion sailed over Brian Strachan ’14.

“We just didn’t finish it,” Estes said. “We had an opportunity, and we just didn’t get it done.”

After a first quarter void of scoring, Dartmouth opened the second half with a nine play, 50-yard touchdown drive over two minutes. After two incompletions midway through the drive, Dalyn Williams found Jordan Are for 11 yards and a fourth-down conversion in Bruno’s red zone. On the next play, Anthony capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass from Williams.

Later in the second when a Big Green drive appeared to be going nowhere, backup running back Kyle Bramble broke off a 70-yard touchdown run along the far sideline on third down to put Dartmouth up by two scores.

On the ensuing kickoff, Troy Doles ’16 shifted momentum to the Bears with a 60-yard kickoff return to the Dartmouth 32-yard-line.

After Spooney and Strachan both picked up first downs, quarterback Patrick Donnelly ’13.5 found Evans for the score in the back of the end zone on fourth-and-goal to bring Bruno within a touchdown.

The Bears kept up the pace early in the third quarter, coming out of the locker room with a seven-play, 68-yard scoring drive. After Spooney kick-started the Brown offense with 22 yards on three rushes, Donnelly found Andrew Marks along the right side for a 30-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14.

“I thought the good part (of our performance) was what we did when we came out after halftime,” Estes said. “We had a great drive, made a statement and tied the score up.”

Later in the third, Spooney put together another strong drive for the Bears with 25 yards on the ground, setting up a Norocea 30-yard field goal to give Bruno its first lead of the game, 17-14.

“Spooney is a good back,” said Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens. “He’s lean, but he can take a hit. We laid some hits on him, but he kept coming.”

After both teams exchanged three-and-outs, Pierre punched in a two-yard touchdown run to put the Big Green back on top, 21-17. A 29-yard connection from Williams to Houston Brown earlier in the drive brought Dartmouth into the red zone and set up Pierre’s score.

“We settled back in,” Teevens said. “You can’t get into a panic phase. We didn’t. We came back and executed.”

Brown responded to open the fourth quarter, marching down the field due to a Dartmouth pass interference call and a 26-yard pass to Spooney. The Donnelly-to-Evans connection could not come up with a third-down conversion, however, and Bruno was forced to settle for another Norocea field goal, which made it 21-20.

Bruno got the ball back after a Dartmouth three-and-out, but the Big Green defense stopped Spooney for no gain on third-and-two, forcing a punt.

Dartmouth would capitalize on Brown’s missed opportunity. Its drive started with a 42-yard pass from Williams to Anthony, which led to a 21-yard field goal by kicker Alex Gakenheimer.

The Bears would get the ball back with 3 minutes and 15 seconds left in the game for one last shot. A 31-yard punt return from Troy Doles put Bruno in good field position on its own 35-yard line. Donnelly went to work quickly, connecting with Marks and Evans for 15-yard receptions on back-to-back plays.

On first down at the Dartmouth 32-yard-line, Donnelly completed a pass to Spooney for a three-yard gain. After an incompletion to Spooney on second down, Donnelly handed off to Strachan, who completed a pass back to Donnelly in the flat, but for only two yards in a play that was not executed as designed.

“We tried to get (Donnelly) on a little quarterback screen, but it was a little too soon,” Estes said. “The defensive end caught (Donnelly) moving out or else it would have been wide open right there.”

On fourth down, Donnelly threw a pass just over the outstretched arms of Strachan, giving Dartmouth the ball to effectively end the game.

Bruno will close out its season next weekend against Columbia (0-8, 0-5) in New York City. Dartmouth will finish up against first-place Princeton (8-1, 6-0).

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