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Football preps for its ‘Super Bowl’

Bruno’s offense looks to continue hot streak and knock Big Green from title contention with win

The football team was eliminated from Ivy title contention last weekend with a loss to Yale and a win by Harvard. For many teams in this position, it might be tough to stay motivated, but the Bears (4-4, 2-3 Ivy) have plenty left to play for.

“It’s a little bit of a bummer,” admitted co-captain Dan Giovacchini ’15. But quarterback Marcus Fuller ’15, Giovacchini’s fellow captain, said the elimination does “not at all” influence the team’s intensity going into a game.

“I wouldn’t say it’s harder to get up,” he added.

Bruno still has two games left on its schedule, and Saturday’s will present a challenge: The Bears head north to face Dartmouth.

The Big Green (6-2, 4-1) is tied for second in the Ivy League and will surely have its sights set on its matchup with Princeton in two weeks. If the Tigers (7-1, 4-1) and Big Green win this weekend, the winner of the Dartmouth/Princeton bout will be guaranteed a share of the conference title if Harvard (8-0, 5-0) drops either of its next two games.

Giovacchini said the Bears “expected to be looked past,” which makes the team “feel a little disrespected.”

Given Bruno’s opportunity to spoil Dartmouth’s title hopes with a road win, the linebacker described this week’s game as “kind of our Super Bowl,” dispelling any doubts that the Bears would not be be pumped up for their trip to Hanover.

On the surface, Dartmouth may look like a middling team. The Big Green ranks fourth in the Ivy League in both total offense and total defense, but it managed to do what Bruno could not in winning a shootout over Yale, 38-31.

The key to Dartmouth’s success lies in turnovers and special teams. The team’s returners rank at the top of the conference in yards per kickoff return and punt return and place second in kickoff coverage. Couple that with an Ivy-leading 11 interceptions, and it’s clear how Dartmouth’s solid offense and defense put the team in a prime position to succeed.

Game-planning for a team with no glaring weaknesses can be difficult. “You can’t focus in on one thing,” Fuller said, adding that the team is just “continuing to do what we’ve been doing.”

What the team has been doing has worked better and better recently, and the offense’s performance peaked with a 42-point outburst against Yale. Though it came in a losing effort, Fuller was encouraged.

“It just builds our confidence,” he said. After going toe-to-toe with what ranks statistically as the best offense in Division 1-FCS, the Bears know they “can match up with anybody,” he added.

The defense also drew some lessons from last weekend’s game. After giving up 45 points, the unit focused on what it can improve on.

“We didn’t perform like we hoped,” Giovacchini said, noting that the Bears need to work on stopping the run and pass.

“We’ve got to be tougher between tackles,” he said. “We’ve got to be perfect on the back end.”

Against the Big Green, Bruno will attempt to do what it could not last weekend: control the game.

“We can set the pace and dictate what kind of plays they have to run,” Giovacchini said. He described grabbing that upper hand as the “biggest thing” the defense can do.

Giovacchini and Fuller, both seniors, also spoke about trying not to get too nostalgic as they enter the final two games of their careers. “I appreciate every day I get to go out on the field with those guys,” Giovacchini said.

Derailing Dartmouth’s championship dream would be quite a way to make the most out of the pair’s final road game. Saturday’s matchup kicks off at noon.


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