After committing six turnovers and squandering a first-half lead, the football team dropped its third straight game Saturday at Brown Stadium, falling 31-21 to Stetson.
Bruno (1-3, 0-1 Ivy) started hot on offense, a good sign for the unit that struggled mightily in a loss to the University of Rhode Island last Saturday. After Brown recovered a Stetson (3-2, 1-1) fumble on its opening possession, Kyle Moreno ’17 connected with Isaac Whitney ’18 on the first play of the drive for a 28-yard touchdown, the first of Whitney’s collegiate career. The junior stepped into a bigger role in the wake of an injury to Troy Doles ’16.5, who has missed the last two games.
Bruno struck just as quickly on its second possession, lifting the team to a 14-0 lead just 3:20 into the game thanks to a 41-yard touchdown run by David Moodie ’19. Moodie finished the day with 78 yards rushing on eight carries. As a team, the Bears rushed for a season-high 151 yards, a noticeable improvement from previous contests.
But the visitors quickly responded to Bruno’s early advantage. In its next two possessions, Stetson answered to tie the game with rushing touchdowns, with a 69-yard quarterback keeper and a short score set up by a Moreno fumble in Brown territory.
A week after two long touchdown runs put the game out of reach for the Bears against URI, big plays on the ground continued to hurt the Brown defense, which allowed 167 yards rushing on the day.
“It’s about tackling,” said defensive end Dewey Jarvis ’17. “After reviewing all the film, a lot of it comes down to having a second or third guy getting to the ball and making a play.”
Thomas Linta ’18 took the reins at quarterback after Moreno’s first fumble and made a crucial third-down throw to Alex Jette ’17 to keep Brown’s next drive moving. Three plays later, Jette ran 25 yards for Brown’s third touchdown of the first quarter. Jette finished with 80 yards receiving on 10 catches, both team highs.
The scoring stopped there for Brown, as mistakes began piling up. Moreno fumbled again on Brown’s next drive, and a short punt later in the quarter set up a Stetson touchdown to tie the score at 21 heading into halftime.
To start the second half, Stetson turned a fumble by Moodie on Brown’s first drive into a field goal, and Moreno was intercepted two drives later for his third turnover of the day. Linta replaced Moreno for the remainder of the game, but he also threw two interceptions trying to bring Brown back into the contest. A Stetson touchdown at the start of the fourth gave the Hatters a 31-21 lead.
After turning the ball over 34 times last season, Brown is all too familiar with the consequences of a mistake-ridden offense. Moreno and Linta combined for five turnovers and just 147 yards passing on 18 completions, an underwhelming performance that could not complement a relatively successful day for the running game and defense.
Defensively, Brown totaled four sacks and hurried Stetson quarterback Gaven DeFilippo three more times, limiting big plays through the air. DeFeilippo had just 157 yards passing but completed 20 of his 29 passes for one touchdown and ran for 85 yards.
“There’s definitely a little bit of frustration with the turnovers, but it’s part of the game,” Jarvis said of the impact of turnovers on the defense. “Part of being on the defense is being excited about those opportunities to get back on the field.”
The Bears now face six Ivy contests in a row, starting next week at second-place Princeton. Though Harvard remains undefeated at the top of the conference, the rest of the league is still up for grabs, making the matchup with the Tigers increasingly important if Brown hopes to salvage its season and make a run at a conference championship.
“It’s like a playoff game for us,” Jarvis said.