NOTEBOOK: Last-Play Decision Raises Questions

Football v. Brown
Pamela Jimenez cardenas and Meredith H. Keffer

The question in everyone’s mind at the end of Friday night’s football game had to have been, “Why did Brown coach Phil Estes not send out his kicking team in an attempt to send the game into overtime?”

With 20/20 hindsight, the decision seems clear. But at the time, Estes had more to consider.

“We can’t kick it that far,” Estes said after the game. “That’s a no decision for me. That was an easy decision. I don’t have a kicker that can kick the ball that far.”

Poised on the 25-yard line, the field goal would have been from 42 yards out—surely a difficult kick, but also a makeable one. But for Estes, the memory of Week 1 was still fresh. In the Bears’ season opener against Stony Brook, Brown’s kicker Drew Plichta was called on to hit a 40-yard field goal with time expiring. The kick missed right and the Bears fell, 21-20.

Estes therefore went with arguably the two best receivers in the Ivy League—seniors Buddy Farnham and Bobby Sewall—in his attempt to win Friday’s game. But Harvard’s secondary proved too much.


“Those two receivers are great players, and we knew that coming in, so a big part of our game plan was we need to make sure we knew exactly where they were,” junior safety Collin Zych said. “The defensive coaches came up with some good schemes to contain them.”


Last year, quarterback Chris Pizzotti ’08-’09’s favorite target was then-junior Matt Luft. At 6’6, Luft could pull down anything thrown in his general direction. This year, the Crimson’s opponents recognize Luft’s threat and consistently put their best man on him. Last week, it was Holy Cross’ Michael Wright. This week, it was the Bears’ David Clement.

Whoever it is, this year’s play caller, junior Collier Winters, is having a hard time getting it to Luft.

“They definitely did a great job mixing up when they were coming up and jamming or dropping off,” Luft said of his Brown coverage.

But Winters has the advantage of a veteran receiving corps, any one of whom can come down with a big play, and at least through the first two weeks, it seems classmate Chris Lorditch is Winters’ man. The pair connected on five receptions for 75 yards on Friday.


In an uncharacteristic move, Harvard outpenalized Brown, 11-5.

“You’re going to have some aggressive pass interference penalties, but just penalties in general is a concern, and it will be addressed,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said. “If you look at us traditionally, we’re a team that doesn’t beat itself. We don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

The 11 penalties charged to the Crimson accounted for 92 free yards for the Bears and put a damper on a number of Harvard drives, most notably a 60-yard breakout run by rookie Treavor Scales that got called all the way back because of an illegal block.

“Any penalty hurts, especially on a big play,” Winters said. “It just kind of takes the wind out of you. You know I didn’t see it, I don’t know, I’m sure it was a good call, but Treavor made a great play on that, broke a couple of tackles, made some great cuts, everyone was excited. You know, for that to be called back, you just have to regroup.”

But regroup Harvard did. Though the drive didn’t culminate in a score, the Crimson offense managed to chew up over four minutes off the clock, forcing the Bears to pack their comeback push into the final three minutes.

“We’re not as dominant in terms of personnel as we were a year ago, so we got to do all the little things,” Murphy said. “We’re not doing them all yet, but hopefully we’ll get to that.”

—Staff writer Dixon McPhillips can be reached at