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Football crippled by mistakes against Yale

A questionable penalty, a late touchdown and ‘undisciplined playing’ doomed the Bears

Yale running back Deon Randall drove through the teeth of the Bears’ defense on his way to a go-ahead, 32-yard touchdown with 19 seconds remaining in Saturday’s game in New Haven to propel Yale over Brown — 24-17 — for the first time since 2010.

Randall’s knockout punch extinguished any lingering hopes of a conference title for Bruno (5-3, 2-3 Ivy). But his heroics would not have been possible without early missed opportunities by the Brown offense. In the first half, an uncharacteristic missed field goal by Alexander Norocea '14, a turnover on downs deep in Bulldog territory and a lost fumble in the red zone held the Bears to just seven points despite 236 years of offense and 14 first downs.

“We didn’t make plays today and mistakes cost us,” said Head Coach Phil Estes. He added that all three of the team’s losses this season can be chalked up to “undisciplined play.”

Bruno had 87 more yards, three more first downs and four more red zone opportunities than the Bulldogs (5-3, 3-2), but crucial penalties and a couple of big plays for the Elis swung the game in favor of the home team.

Quarterback and co-captain Pat Donnelly ’13.5 had some success through the air, connecting on 25 completions for 262 yards and two touchdowns, but he struggled with overthrowing receivers throughout the game, including sailing an open Tellef Lundevall ’13.5 down the field on the first play from scrimmage.

Donnelly opened up scoring for the Bears with a five-yard strike to Lundevall in the first quarter. Rolling out, Donnelly hit his man running toward the front pylon and Lundevall dove over the goal line for six. But those were the only receiving yards of the day for the All-Ivy receiver.

Yale built a 14-7 lead after the first period with two lengthy touchdown drives, capped by a 35-yard screen pass and a six-yard run. The first quarter scoring drives accounted for 56 percent of Yale’s total yardage before the game’s final drive. Saturday’s game marked the first time this season the Bears trailed after the first quarter.

The second quarter was also marked by missed opportunity. Estes elected to go for it on fourth and five at the Yale 22-yard line, but Donnelly’s pass fell incomplete, forcing the ball back to the Blue. Two possessions later, Bruno was in Yale’s red zone when John Spooney ’14 was hit in the backfield and coughed up the ball to a Bulldog defender. Just before halftime, a fumble by punt returner Alex Jette ’17 set up the Elis for a late field goal to take a 10-point edge.

The second half saw better execution in the red zone as Bruno won the third quarter 10-0 to tie the game at 17-17. Runs by Spooney — who finished with over 100 rushing yards for his third game in a row — complemented Donnelly’s passing attack as the Bears marched down the field. Donnelly found his favorite target Jordan Evans ’14 for a four-yard score to cut the lead to three.

Zach Lattrell ’14 intercepted Yale’s first pass attempt of the ensuing drive to set up Norocea for his game-tying, 26-yard field goal.

While Randall’s run could generate more buzz, a play earlier in the fourth may have made the difference. With the score tied, linebacker Xavier Russo ’15 intercepted a tipped ball and returned it deep into Yale territory. But the play, which would have set up the Bears for the winning score, was negated by a questionable roughing the passer penalty that Estes said “on film doesn’t exist.”

“That could have been a big turning point in the game,” he said.

Yale’s game-winning score was remarkable in its simplicity. Facing a third and long with less than half a minute remaining in the game, passing seemed like the obvious option. But the Elis surprised everyone in the Yale Bowl, including the Brown defenders, by handing the ball to Randall right up the middle. He was hardly touched.

“We probably had the right defense called,” Estes said of the defense at the end of the game. “We just had a couple of people out of position and didn’t make the play.”


Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article stated that a missed field goal attempt by Alexander Norocea ’14 led to a costly turnover in Brown territory and that a lost fumble directly limited Brown’s offense. In fact, the turnover was on a separate series from the missed field goal attempt, and all of the events limited the offense. The Herald regrets the errors.


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