Sports

Bears beat URI in a muddy weekend game

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, October 5, 2009

With rainy skies overhead and a slick ball under center, football’s game against the University of Rhode Island Saturday looked like it would turn into a run-dominated battle in the mud.

But the wet conditions didn’t stop Brown Head Coach Phil Estes from sticking to what the Bears do best: giving the ball to wide receivers Bobby Sewall ’10 and Buddy Farnham ’10. Together, the duo scored all four of Brown’s touchdowns in a 28-20 win that wasn’t as close as the final score suggested.

URI, typically a passing team, chose a different strategy. Rams’ quarterback D.J. Stefkovich only passed once in the first quarter.

Stefkovich, URI’s backup quarterback, came off the bench 1:30 after kickoff following an injury to starter Chris Paul-Etienne. Paul-Etienne’s injury, combined with the wet field, forced URI to rush for most of the first half, said URI Head Coach Joe Trainer.

The weather “certainly affected the passing game, but it’s still no excuse,” he said. “There is no acceptable reason for the way we played today.”

URI actually outgained Brown, 416 yards to 295. But the Rams committed 17 penalties, mostly holding calls, putting them in 3rd-and-long situations over and over again. URI didn’t convert a third down until late in the third quarter.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Trainer said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a team that had that many penalties.”

The Bears’ punter Nate Lovett ’12 gave Bruno a leg up in the field position battle with eight punts, four of which pinned URI inside their 20-yard line.

Lovett got the Bears out of trouble and gave the Rams a long field for much of the day. “He should get a game ball for that,” Estes said.

The Rams couldn’t put together long scoring drives, but did find the end zone on three big plays — a 68-yard run by Anthony Ferrer early in the first quarter, a 75-yard interception return by URI linebacker Rob Damon in the second and a 55-yard pass to Ryan Lawrence with just 3:14 left in the fourth quarter.

The referees had a busy day, calling a total of 29 penalties. Estes said both teams got away with some calls, too.

“The game was sloppy from the beginning,” Estes said. “I thought they could have thrown 100 more (flags), to be perfectly honest.” 

A day of big plays

Every score in Saturday’s game was the result of a big play. Of the six touchdown drives, five took under a minute. Four took just a single play.

The game’s first score set the tone. Just over five minutes into the game, Stefkovich faked a handoff and ran a quarterback counter up the middle. On the next play, Ferrer, URI’s running back, ran to the same spot as he had a play before, but this time the handoff was not a fake. Ferrer ran off the left tackle, juked a few defenders and broke a tackle before breaking out into open field.

“No one could catch up to Ferrer, who doesn’t have great speed on a dry field,” Trainer said.

“He’s a mudder. You know this is his kind of track,” he said. “He has a low center of gravity. His feet don’t come up that high.”

Ferrer’s touchdown gave the Rams a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.

Less than three minutes later, the Bears scored their first touchdown when Kyle Newhall ’11 spotted Farnham wide open in the end zone. Though the ball was underthrown, no one from URI was close enough to get to it before Farnham came down with the 32-yard pass.

The Bears fumbled the snap on the extra point attempt, making the score 7-6 with 6:10 left in the first quarter.

URI struck back on Damon’s interception return early in the second quarter, giving the Rams a 14-6 lead.

On the first play from scrimmage after Damon’s touchdown, Newhall threw a strike to Farnham, in double coverage. Farnham got the ball between two defenders at the 15 yardline, broke through them and ran into the end zone.

The 42-yard bomb, followed by a successful two-point conversion, evened the score at 14-14 with 8:50 left in the first half.

Just under five minutes into the second half, it was the Brown defense that made a big play. Kelley Cox ’10 forced a fumble, giving the Bears great field position at the URI 13-yard line. One play later, Sewall scored on a reception in the front right corner of the end zone, giving Brown a 21-14 lead.

With just under a minute left in the quarter, Sewall found the end zone again, this time on a five-yard run out of the wildcat formation. But, for the second time of the game, a big play led up to Sewall’s touchdown.

On the previous play, Farnham returned a punt 69 yards to the URI 5-yard line. He started the return to the right, but cut across to the left sideline, where he broke free and almost reached the end zone.

The Bears held on to their 28-14 lead until Stefkovich completed a 55-yard touchdown pass with 3:14 remaining.

When the final whistle blew, the Bears rushed onto the field to take hold of the Governor’s Cup, awarded annually to the winner of the in-state rivalry. The win gave Brown its first victory of the season and brought the cup to Providence for the first time since 2005.
“That almost felt as good as winning the Ivy League Championship,” Estes said.