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Football team runs roughshod over Big Red for first Ivy win

After breakdowns cost Bruno first two Ivy games, Fuller ’15 throws for over 300 yards in 42-16 win

After a pair of close losses to open its Ivy slate, the football team finally grabbed its first conference win of the season Saturday, obliterating Cornell 42-16.

The Bears (3-3, 1-2 Ivy) had looked inconsistent in their previous games against Harvard and Princeton, collapsing for a quarter in each game and sinking their chances of victory. But they played a complete game against the Big Red (0-6, 0-3), jumping out to an early lead and never looking back. Bruno was totally in control through the entire game. A few garbage-time scores helped Cornell make the line a bit more respectable, but the Bears led 35-2 and 42-9 at points in the fourth quarter.

“We definitely needed a strong win like that,” said linebacker and captain Dan Giovacchini ’15.

“It was a huge win,” wide receiver Alex Jette ’17 said. “We just kind of destroyed Cornell.”

Jette was right: The Bears creamed Cornell in all phases of the game. Offensively, Bruno massively outgained the Big Red, 408-242. Quarterback Marcus Fuller ’15 had far and away the best game of his career, setting personal bests in completion percentage and touchdown passes. He completed 20 of his 33 attempts for a 60.6 completion percentage and posted 306 yards and four touchdowns. Cornell rotated between three quarterbacks, who posted an abysmal combined line: 12-for-29, a 41.4 completion percentage and just 150 yards.

Giovacchini gave the most credit for shutting the Big Red down to the Bears’ defensive line, saying it “was getting pressure all day. ... It makes the game a step slower.”

Bruno outrushed Cornell 102-92, even though its leading rusher was Jette, who had one attempt for 22 yards. Highly touted running back Jake Hall ’18 made his Brown debut in the blowout and rushed eight times for just 20 yards, though he did turn a short catch into a 42-yard gain.

Jette had a successful day in every facet of the game, making things happen each time he touched the ball. He reminded the Big Red why he was named First Team All-Ivy as a kick returner last season, averaging an impressive 11 yards per punt return. He only made two receptions, but they went for a total of 58 yards, including one impressive touchdown. In single coverage in the end zone, Jette found just enough space behind a Cornell defensive back to make a spectacular diving catch for the score.

“I gave my defender a little inside move. … I was just able to lay out and make that catch,” Jette said. The wide receiver gave all the credit to his quarterback, saying the pass was “a hell of a ball by Marcus.”

Fuller did an excellent job of spreading out the ball, hitting eight different receivers with passes and throwing his four touchdowns to four different players. Brian Strachan ’15 and Troy Doles ’16 led the way with 79 and 77 yards, respectively.

“He wasn’t just keying in on one of us, he was really finding the open receiver,” Jette said. “He finally got that confidence going.”

For Cornell, the only stat line that stood out besides its quarterbacks’ garish numbers was that of sophomore punter Chris Fraser. Last season’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Fraser showed off his big leg, averaging nearly 43 yards per punt with a long of 59. His average would have been even better had he not been focused on pinning the Bears inside their own 10-yard line, which he did on three consecutive punts in the first half. After one of Fraser’s punts was downed at the one-yard line, Bruno was called for holding in the end zone, handing Cornell a safety. For much of the game, Fraser was primarily responsible for Cornell’s lone scoring play.

Leading 7-0 after the first quarter, Bruno cracked the game open by scoring touchdowns on three consecutive drives between the second and third quarters to open up a 28-2 edge. The teams traded touchdowns twice at the beginning of the fourth quarter, including a 44-yard onside kick return for a touchdown by Reiley Higgins ’15. Bruno’s second-team defense looked somewhat suspect on those final drives, one of which ended on a 51-yard touchdown strike that accounted for more than a third of Cornell’s total points and passing yards for the game, but the starters were more than stout enough.

With an Ivy victory finally in hand, a bit of pressure is off the Bears as they enter the latter part of their season.

While its work may not be done, Bruno is poised to use the win as a springboard into the rest of its season.

“We feel pretty good about where we’re at,” Giovacchini said.

The Bears will have a chance to bring themselves above .500 when they take on Penn (1-5, 1-2) Saturday in Philadelphia. A trip to the City of Brotherly Love represents a huge opportunity for the team, Giovacchini said.

“If we come out with a win this week, we’ll be right back in it,” he said.


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