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Football team dominates Columbia to give seniors winning send-off

Grebenc ’15 rushes for 132 yards in final game of season as seniors lead Bruno past winless Lions, 41-7

Every team wants to end its year on a high note. And on Saturday, the football team was pitch perfect.

The Bears (5-5, 3-4 Ivy) steamrolled Columbia (0-10, 0-7) by a 41-7 tally, sending the Lions to their 21st straight loss and stretching Bruno’s streak to seven consecutive seasons with a .500 record or better.

Bruno’s season was not the most successful, with momentary lapses coming up big in what were otherwise winnable games, but Head Coach Phil Estes P’18 said he very much enjoyed the ending.

“There were a couple of games you’d like to have back, maybe finish a little bit better, but to be able to go out there right from the start and take control of the football game, that’s a nice way to go out,” he said.

Linebacker Xavier Russo ’15 said the seniors were able to put their emotions aside for long enough to prepare for the game and get the victory.

“It’s kind of sad throughout the week of practice, but we also know that we’ve got to perform and that you don’t want to end the year with a loss,” he said.

Before the game, the Bears emphasized the importance of coming out with energy and grabbing an early lead. Their start could not have been better, as they scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives, two of which came on the ground from Seth Rosenbauer ’16. The Bears also forced Columbia into three-and-outs on each of its first three possessions. After Bruno scored its third touchdown to go up 21-0, the squad was outgaining the Lions 192 to 2.

Even with a huge lead in hand, the Bears never took their foot off the gas. Bruno tacked on another field goal before the Lions managed a first down. Columbia did eventually get its yardage total up, but Bruno still held a huge advantage — 304-92, plus a 24-0 lead — at halftime.

The second half was much the same. Marcus Fuller ’15 tossed a pair of touchdowns, and Grant Senne ’16 added his second field goal of the day to hand Bruno a cushy 41-point lead. Columbia ruined the shutout by finally finding the end zone with 65 seconds left to play, but the outcome of the game was never in doubt.

Fuller had one of his best games of the season in the finale, completing 18 of 30 passes — 60 percent — for 274 yards and two touchdowns. His leading receiver was running back Andrew Coke ’16, who caught only three balls, but took them for 86 total yards.

When the final whistle blew, Bruno had nearly doubled Columbia’s yardage total, holding a 483-254 edge. The Bears had 27 first downs to the Lions’ 11, and punted just twice, while Columbia did so seven times.

But the biggest gap between the two teams came in the running game. The Lions had 26 rushing yards, while Bruno had 209, led by Robert Grebenc ’15, who started the game on Senior Day.

Grebenc had appeared in six games before Saturday’s, but never received more than four carries in an appearance. That changed drastically this weekend, as the senior carried the rock 26 times for 132 yards and a touchdown, more than doubling his career yardage total.

“To be able to get him out there and get him some carries and have him be so successful was great,” Estes said.

Grebenc was one of many seniors who starred in their final game in uniform. Starting wideouts Brian Strachan ’15, Reiley Higgins ’15 and Stian Romberg ’15 each had at least two catches, and tight end Alex Viox ’15 grabbed a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Bruno had a four-way tie for the team tackles lead at five, and it was an appropriate list: Russo, Chesley Brooks ’15, Jacob Supron ’15 and James Connelly ’15.

Estes expressed hope that all his seniors enjoyed their time with the program.

“I want them to say after four years that ‘this was the greatest experience in four years that I’ve ever had,’” he said. “That’s my goal, that at some point they’re going to say ‘this was a hell of an experience.’”

While the season was not the best by the standard Estes has set, as it breaks a streak of six consecutive winning seasons, it certainly had its moments. With lots of young players contributing this year, the future of the program looks bright.

“To know some of the guys that will be coming back, the kind of experience that they got this year, it’s going to be exciting to put a team together next year,” Estes said.


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