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Potent Yale offense to visit Providence for football's conference showdown

Defense could be paramount to success against Elis’ dynamic rushing attack

Riding a two-game winning streak, the football team is peaking at the perfect time as it prepares to host Yale in a critical Ivy League matchup.

The Elis (6-1, 3-1 Ivy) have been an unpleasant surprise for the rest of the conference this season. They are just one game out of first place in the Ivy League, with games still to play against first-place Harvard and Princeton. But despite their success so far, a trip to College Hill to face a Bruno team on a roll will be no easy task.

After pulverizing Cornell two weeks ago for their first Ivy win, the Bears (4-3, 2-2) headed to Philadelphia last weekend. Bruno left victorious once again, riding a 206-yard game from quarterback-turned-bulldozer Seth Rosenbauer ’16 and a strong defensive showing to a 21-13 win.

“They did a great job,” said Head Coach Phil Estes P’18. “I thought they hung in there and played well against a physical Penn team.”

Starting quarterback and co-captain Marcus Fuller ’15 described the game as a “big win.”

Rosenbauer, the backup quarterback who has seen more action in the past few weeks playing as a running back alongside Fuller, was the main catalyst for the Bears’ victory. He ripped through the Quaker defense, scoring two touchdowns in addition to achieving his considerable yardage total on a cold, rainy day that made passing the ball difficult.

Estes described the junior’s presence in the victory as “huge,” though the term applies literally as well. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Rosenbauer presents a unique challenge for defenders.

“The guys on the other sideline were just sick of tackling him, and it showed,” Fuller noted.

For his efforts, Rosenbauer was named the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week. Despite the accolade, Estes said, using Rosenbauer against Yale will be dependent on what defense the Elis show.

“It all depends on what Yale wants to give us, on whether we’re going to throw it, run it or whatever we do,” he said. “Rosie was a big part of what we wanted to do on Saturday, and we’ll go into this game hoping to use him again.”

The Bears’ defense also stood tall last weekend, holding Penn to just 37 rushing yards and one touchdown before a fumbled snap on a punt in garbage time gave the Quakers excellent field position for their second score.

Linebacker Dan Giovacchini ’15 said the defense has “improved each week.”

But for Brown to come out of Saturday’s game with a win, the defense may need to turn in its best performance yet.

The foundation of Yale’s success this season has been its offense — the Elis have blown every team they’ve faced out of the water, failing to score 30 points only once, and even then securing a comfortable win over Columbia.

Yale’s offense has broken 50 points twice, and scored 49 in an overtime win against Division 1-FBS Army. The Bulldogs average exactly 600 yards per game, which leads Division 1-FCS football. Their season low in yardage is 480 — 33 more yards than Bruno had in a season-high effort against Princeton.

The heart of Yale’s attack has been senior running back Tyler Varga, who has gained 955 yards on the ground and scored 16 touchdowns, one fewer than Brown has scored as a team all season.

Estes and Giovacchini agreed on the best way to handle Varga: Wrap him up. In other words, make sure he goes down when tackled.

“He’s a big physical back,” Estes said. “You’ve got to do your job, and you’ve got to fundamentally be able to tackle him.”

“He’s best at making moves in the open field,” Giovacchini said, noting that Bruno will have to make a “stronger commitment to stopping the run.”

The Elis will present arguably the biggest challenge Bruno has faced all season, especially given the Bears’ offensive struggles. Nonetheless, the team remains confident.

“If they want to stay in contention and have a chance, they’ve got to get a win here,” Estes said. “We’ll have our hands full for sure.”

“Knocking them off would put us right back in contention,” Giovacchini said. “We feel like we have the playmakers and the schemes to get it done.”

Kickoff at Brown Stadium is at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.


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