For the first time since the 2006 season, the football team lost its fourth-straight game, struggling to move the ball in a 31-7 defeat at Princeton Saturday.
TJ Linta ’18 made his first career start at quarterback, filling in for Kyle Moreno ’17, who was sidelined with an injury. Linta, who saw playing time in the second half of last week’s loss to Stetson, finished 18-36 for 148 yards, throwing two interceptions and a late touchdown pass.
“I felt pretty prepared, so I wasn’t too nervous out there,” Linta said. “After the first play or two, I was settled into the game, so it wasn’t a huge deal.”
Brown (1-4, 0-2 Ivy) also tried some unconventional formations on offense, frequently snapping the ball to wide receivers Alex Jette ’17 and Livingstone Harriott ’20. The Princeton (4-1, 2-0) defense was unfazed by the wildcat formation, limiting the Bears to just 52 rushing yards on 26 carries. Brown’s 200 yards of offense added up to its lowest total of the season.
The Tigers scored a pair of touchdowns in the first and second quarters, effectively using a two-quarterback system that has lifted the team to the top of the league at the season’s halfway mark. John Lovett and Chad Kanoff completed a combined 22 of 30 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns.
Princeton was able to take advantage of two interceptions thrown by Linta, including one on Bruno’s first offensive possession. Linta’s third-down pass hit a Brown receiver in the shoulder pads, deflecting high in the air and eventually falling into the hands of the Princeton defense.
“It happens sometimes — that’s just the way it plays out,” Linta said of the unlucky bounce.
Kanoff capitalized two plays later, lofting a 33-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Barnes to give Princeton an early lead it would never relinquish.
Late in the second half, Linta was intercepted again after being hit as he threw from Brown’s endzone, giving Princeton prime field position. After converting on fourth down, Lovett ran through two Brown defenders on first and goal for his third touchdown of the half to give the Tigers a commanding 28-0 lead at intermission.
Brown avoided being shut out on its last possession of the game with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Linta to Jaelon Blandburg ’20, marking the first career touchdown for both players. Linta completed six straight passes on the final drive, accounting for 69 of his passing yards.
“It was good for me to just go down the field methodically,” Linta said. “We finally got in the end zone. … We really needed that for a little bit of momentum going into next week.”
Bruno will attempt to right the ship Saturday as it hosts Cornell. Brown has dominated the Big Red in recent years, winning eight straight contests, including a 44-24 win last season on the road.
Who will be quarterback Saturday remains unclear, Linta said. “This week I have to prepare like I’ll be the starter, and then what happens on game day happens.”