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Ready for prime time: Football to battle Crimson under lights

Bruno must avoid fatal mistakes as team hosts 2013 Ivy League champion Harvard Saturday night

Fresh off a season-opening loss at Georgetown University, the football team will be thrown into the fire this weekend as 2013 Ivy League champion Harvard comes to College Hill for a game under the lights.

The Bears’ season began with a thud as they fell 17-3 last weekend to the Hoyas, a team they had crushed 45-7 the prior season. Four turnovers in opposing territory spelled doom for the offense, which moved the ball better than its three points reflected.

With that dud behind it, Bruno (0-1) needs to shape up quickly in preparation for what may be its toughest game of the season Saturday.

“That was not the kind of team we are,” said captain Dan Giovacchini ’15, who added that the Bears needed to improve “a lot of things.”

“The main thing is coming out with a much better focus and to really be ready to play,” he said.

Head Coach Phil Estes P’18 said he felt similarly, emphasizing that the team had to cut down on mistakes.

“Stop the turnovers, stop the penalties, execute the play, do your job,” he said. “Simple as that.”

Giovacchini remarked that the Bears have been working on the smaller, more technical parts of their game in practice, and said the team has “more confidence” in that area of its play.

The Bears cited execution as a key to victory before the Georgetown game as well, but they failed to accomplish that objective. The loss was marked by sloppy play, as the Bears were called for four turnovers in addition to their multitude of penalities. Bruno will have to shape up in a big way if it hopes to begin its conference schedule with a win against the defending champions.

The Crimson (1-0) was the class of the Ivy League last season, posting a 9-1 overall record, including a 6-1 conference mark. It returns many key contributors, including quarterback Conner Hempel and All-American linebacker Zach Hodges.

But Harvard is not without weak spots. It is missing three of its four starting defensive backs from last season, a vulnerability that a strong Brown wide receiving corps may be able to take advantage of.

In its first game of the year, the Crimson showed a glimpse of mortality, falling behind the College of the Holy Cross shortly after halftime. Despite this, Harvard would score the game’s final 27 points to pull away with a victory. But a weakened Harvard secondary did allow 233 passing yards.

Speculation aside, all indications are that the current Crimson is still as dangerous as the squad that beat Bruno 41-23 last year, when the Bears blew an early 13-0 lead.

Winless thus far, the Bears are fully aware how significant this game is, especially against the team considered by some to be Brown’s biggest rival.

“It’s huge,” Giovacchini said. “When it comes to Harvard, it’s a special game for us. … We’ll be as fired up as we’ve ever been.”

Estes agreed, but noted how important the game was, regardless of opponent.

“It’s not even facing the Ivy champions — it’s because it’s an Ivy League game that makes it big,” he said. “Because we’re 0-1, that makes it big. It wouldn’t matter who we were playing next, we want to get ourselves back on track.”

Despite its daunting opponent, Bruno is looking forward to the challenge Saturday night will bring.

“Frankly, we’re very excited to get out there,” Giovacchini said.

“We feel good,” Estes said. “We feel good and we’re ready.”

Kickoff for Saturday’s game is scheduled for 6 p.m.


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