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Bruno takes on Runnin' Rhody Saturday for state supremacy

After battling the Crimson under the lights at Harvard Stadium to a heartbreaking 24-17, it would be understandable if the football team suffered a letdown this week. But with the Governor's Cup at stake in Brown's annual intrastate rivalry against the University of Rhode Island at Brown Stadium on Saturday, the Bears will be just as excited to play as they were in last week's historic showdown.

The match up will be the 92nd installment of the battle for supremacy in the Ocean State.

The Rams started off their season with four consecutive losses, most recently to Hofstra University, 37-24. In those four games, the URI offense has depended largely on its running game, rushing 225 times while attempting only 84 passes. Rhody's offense features a dangerous triple option formation, which the Bears have been preparing for in practice all week. The triple option gives the quarterback the choice between running the football himself, pitching to his tailback or handing off to a fullback coming up the middle.

The Rhody running game is something the Bears have grown accustomed to seeing each year. Last year, the Rams rushed 59 times for 234 yards. Rams quarterback Derek Cassidy ran more than three times as many rushes, 23, than he completed passes, seven. Those stats are not lost on Head Coach Phil Estes.

"We have to play our responsibilities," Estes said. "We have to stop the fullback run, in order to get to the quarterback, and hit the quarterback."

In their first two games of 2007, Brown's biggest defensive weakness has been allowing big passing plays, such as Harvard's 41-yard completion late in the second quarter last week, which put the Crimson on the Brown 5-yard line and set up their go-ahead touchdown.

The Rams' heavily run-oriented offense may play into the hands of Brown given the strengths of the Bears' defense so far. The defense has held its opponents to under three yards per carry this season. That being said, the Rams' triple option presents a challenge that the Bears defense has not seen since last season.

"What we've been doing is stopping a one-back offense, or sometimes a two-back offense," Estes said. "In this game, if we stop one phase of the run, they have two more options."

The defensive effort has featured great plays from tri-captain linebacker Eric Brewer '08, who has made 16 tackles this season, and linebacker Frank Nuzzo '09, who leads the team with 17 tackles in the season, including a sack against Harvard. The secondary will hope to see the continued strong play of cornerback Darrell Harrison '08, who made nine tackles and an interception last week, and safety Jose Yearwood '08, who has 11 tackles this season, as well as an interception in the Bears' win over Duquesne University.

Last weekend, the Bears' offense suffered a blow early when tri-captain running back Dereck Knight '08 left the game with an injury. With Knight's status unclear, Brown may have to rely on backup running back Jonathan Edwards '09.

"We're very confident in Edwards," said tri-captain guard A.J. Tracey '08. "Jonathan is a great back and can definitely fulfill the role of running back."

Last weekend's game also saw big plays from wide receivers Paul Raymond '08 and Buddy Farnham '10, who each gained over 100 receiving yards against Harvard. In the first two games, Brown has seen 100-yard receiving games from three players, as tight end Colin Cloherty '09 caught eight passes for 171 yards in their week one win over Duquesne.

In order for the offense to reach its full potential, Brown will need a solid start from quarterback Michael Dougherty '09, who, after a strong first start, was erratic against Harvard. Dougherty completed 18 of 44 passes, throwing for 249 yards and two touchdowns, but also three interceptions in the fourth quarter which stymied Brown's comeback attempt.

"I think there are a few balls that Michael would like to have back," Estes said. "But he's going to get better each and every game. There's nothing better than the classroom of the real game, which you can't simulate in practice."

After a 28-21 loss in last year's Governor's Cup, Brown wants to re-gain the honor of being named Rhode Island's best college football team. In the 91 games played between Brown and URI, the Bears are currently 66-23-2, dating back to 1909. Despite coming off the disappointing loss to Harvard, the Bears are ready.

"You have to put (the loss) behind you," Tracey said. "Maybe on Sunday you're a little upset, but come Monday you've got to move on. We're extremely excited about and going for the Governor's Cup."


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