Behind a quick start and several key contributions from underclassmen, the football team defeated Yale 27-22 at Brown Stadium Saturday, its first win against the Elis since 2012.
Brown (3-5, 2-3 Ivy) never trailed in the contest but needed a late defensive stop to stave off a comeback effort from Yale (2-6, 2-3) after the Elis scored early in the fourth quarter to bring the game within one score at 20-15.
Yale got the ball back at its own 10-yard line with eight minutes to play and a chance to take the lead with a touchdown. First-year quarterback Garrett Rawlings tried to hit a receiver along the sideline but instead found a leaping Sebastean Dovi ’19, who came down with his second interception of the season.
Facing third-and-long on the following possession, TJ Linta ’18 found Demitri Jackson ’20 along the sideline for a 22-yard touchdown to restore Brown’s lead to two scores. A late Yale touchdown proved to be harmless when Brown sealed the game by recovering an onside kick with 1:42 left.
“(I’m) proud of the way the guys played,” said Head Coach Phil Estes P’18. “I like the way we practice, and I like the way we’re starting to come together as a football team.”
In an up-and-down year for Bruno, the performances from young players in the win against Yale highlight the potentially bright future for the team in the coming years.
“I love the enthusiasm of our freshman,” Estes said. “I love the way they’re being integrated into the team.”
Along with Jackson, Jaelon Blandburg ’20 was another key target for Linta, finishing with a game-high five receptions for 38 yards. Alex Jette ’17 also finished with five catches for Brown.
Rounding out the first-years was Livingstone Harriott ’20, who grabbed momentum early for Bruno with a 52-yard touchdown scamper on the Bears’ third offensive play of the game. The touchdown was the first of the year for Harriott, who is currently making a transition to running back. His 92 rushing yards was a season-high.
“He started as basically a wide receiver … but we saw what he could do with the ball in his hands,” Estes said. “He is very explosive, and we’ve been waiting for that to happen.”
While young players gave Brown the edge, the Bears’ experienced defense took advantage of the opportunity to face a freshman quarterback starting his first game behind a young offensive line.
The Bears finished with four sacks and eight tackles for loss. Richard Jarvis ’17 led the way with three sacks, and Max Tylki ’17 recorded 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack before being ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit in the second quarter.
“We knew the offensive line was young too,” Jarvis said. “Every time we see a freshman tackle … we get really excited for that. All week we’ve just been licking our chops at getting after that young quarterback.”
Making his fourth start, Linta finished 19-of-33 for 194 yards and notched one touchdown. Along with the game-clinching touchdown pass, Linta made several key throws on a 15-play, 94-yard scoring drive at the end of first half. The drive was capped off with a two-yard run by Johnny Pena ’17 to give Bruno a 17-5 halftime lead.
Linta acknowledged that he’s become “a lot more comfortable” since taking over the starting job in Brown’s fifth game.
“Every week, I just get quicker and quicker as far as dissecting the defense and seeing what they’re doing,” Linta said. “Getting better every week, that’s just what I try to do.”
With two games remaining, the Bears are tied with the Elis for fourth place in the league. The team could get back to .500 on the season and finish with a winning conference record with wins in the upcoming contests against Dartmouth and Columbia to finish the year. At 1-4 in Ivy play, both teams sit below the Bears in the conference standings.
“If we can keep putting things together and cut down on some of the mistakes, we’re going to be a really good football team,” Estes said.