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Crimson massacres football team in Ivy opener

Blowout loss to Harvard pushes Bruno to bench starting QB in second half, reevaluate game plan

There are losses. There are ugly losses. Then, there is Saturday night’s 53-27 loss for the football team at Harvard.

By the midpoint in the first quarter, the hundreds of Bruno (0-2, 0-1 Ivy) fans who made the trek to Boston were seated and solemn. Halfway through the second quarter, the backup quarterback was in the game. It was 37-0 at halftime, and the second half mattered only to make the beatdown look less severe than it was.

“I’ve never been a part of a game like that,” said Head Coach Phil Estes P’18. “I have no explanations for what happened out there.”

The Crimson (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) took its second possession of the game 61 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring and did not look back. It was not simply a matter of Harvard’s offense trampling over the Bruno defense — though it did a fair share of that, too. Two Brown turnovers and a blocked punt supplemented a solid effort by the Crimson offense.

After committing five turnovers last week, the Bears stockpiled mistakes once again. On Bruno’s third possession, quarterback Marcus Fuller ’15.5 took a big hit from the blind side, fumbling the ball and allowing Harvard linebacker Jacob Lindsey to walk in for a touchdown to make it 14-0. Two possessions later, Grant Senne ’16 had his punt blocked and knocked out of the back of the end zone for a safety. The next time Bruno snapped the ball, Fuller tossed an interception that was returned inside the Brown 5-yard line.

“It was just one of those days where everything seemed to go right for us,” said Harvard Head Coach Tim Murphy. “Just a tough day for Brown.”

The beginning of the second half provided no relief for the Bears. They committed four penalties and fired two errant snaps that led to another safety. It was not until Harvard led 53-6 that Bruno’s starters finally began to salvage some dignity with three garbage-time touchdowns against the Harvard backups.

Fuller was pulled out of the game in the second quarter, ending his day 2-for-7 with an interception and a fumble. Senne, usually a beacon of consistency, also had a forgettable day that included a blocked punt and an extra point attempt that never got three feet off the ground. Senne was also pulled in the first half, forcing Bruno receiver Alex Jette ’17 to handle the punting duties.

Some of Bruno’s ineptitude should be credited to the Harvard team, which, after this weekend’s game, has not lost in 16 consecutive games, dating back to 2013. The offensive and defensive line for the Crimson controlled the trenches. Even with the garbage-time success, Bruno managed only 48 rushing yards against the Harvard front.

Bruno’s interior defensive line — a strength entering the season — was depleted by injuries, most notably to captain Zach Sparber ’15.5. As the game wore on, the Bears found themselves outmanned and outmatched by the powerful Harvard ground attack. Paul Stanton, Jr. raced to 89 yards and a touchdown on 7.4 yards per carry. When Stanton sat with the rest of the starters in the second half, first-year back Noah Reimers filled right in with a touchdown on 7.5 yards per carry.

It was the kind of demolition that causes the demolished to reevaluate their team, and Estes did just that. Fuller took a seat in favor of backup quarterback Kyle Moreno ’17. While Moreno was no savior, he did help the Bears to their first first down of the game after Harvard had built a 30-point lead.

“We had no offense. The thought process was trying to create some offense,” Estes said of turning to his backup quarterback.

An optimistic Brunonian could identify a silver lining in the play of the Bears’ backup quarterback. Moreno looked more than capable leading the Bruno offense in the second half, albeit against Harvard second-teamers. He spread the ball around in two long drives in the third quarter, and then capped both by calling his own number for touchdown runs. He added two passing touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 79-yard connection to Troy Doles ’16.

“I thought (Moreno) played pretty well, but it wasn’t against their (starters),” Estes said. The decision will be made in practice this week whether Moreno stays in the lineup or Fuller retakes the reins, he said.

The larger question now facing the Bears is whether the ugly loss was indicative of the team’s talent this year. Bruno will battle for the Governor’s Cup next week against Rhode Island, a winless team the Bears have had success against in recent years. A bounce-back win is sorely needed before Bruno heads into more Ivy competition later in the season.



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