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Injured football players hurt Bears' chances against URI

The football team had a lot on the line Saturday afternoon. With President Ruth Simmons in attendance, the Bears were looking both to bounce back from a loss last week at Harvard and to defeat their intrastate rivals to return the Governor's Cup to Brown.

The football team battled hard and made several brilliant plays, but came up just short in a 49-42 double-overtime loss to the University of Rhode Island. Despite 514 yards of total offense, the Bears had no answer defensively for the Rams' triple-option attack.

A lot of things did not go as planned for the Bears, starting with the coin toss.

Brown's three captains all walked out in street clothes for the coin toss at midfield. Linebacker Eric Brewer '08 was sidelined with a concussion, guard AJ Tracey '08 injured his medial collateral ligament and Dereck Knight '08 was still nursing a foot injury from last week.

But Brown started off strong on its first drive, going 76 yards to take an early 7-0 lead. With a second down and six at the URI 46-yard line, quarterback Michael Dougherty '09 fired a short pass up the middle to receiver Paul Raymond '08, who turned the corner to the right sideline, gaining 44 yards on the play.

The slant was just the beginning of Raymond's big day. The senior finished with 221 receiving yards, which tied for the fourth-most receiving yards in a single game in Brown history.

After Raymond provided the first of his big plays, running back Jonathan Edwards '09 - filling in for the injured Knight - took a pitch from Dougherty and ran into the end zone untouched for his first of four touchdowns on the day.

URI's first two drives resulted in an interception by cornerback Matt Mullenax '08 and a punt, but on their third drive the Rams offense began to roll. Beginning at their own 20-yard line, Rhody drove 80 yards in just five plays, including 37 yards on a perfectly executed shovel pass to Jimmy Hughes. On the next play Rhody's running back took a pitch, found a hole in the Brown defense and hit the paydirt to tie the game at 7-7.

URI then got the ball back at its own 42-yard line and moved the ball to the Brown 3-yard line, where Rhody took a 14-7 lead with 12:02 left in the second quarter on quarterback Derek Cassidy's keeper.

With just 50 seconds remaining in the half, Brown rolled the dice. On fourth and goal from the one-yard-line, the Bears opted to go for the touchdown and the gutsy decision paid off when Edwards took a pitch from Dougherty and found the end zone for a second time, to tie the score at 14.

In the second half, it took the Rams just 1:13 to re-take the lead. After a 62-yard run, URI punched the ball into the end zone from the 9-yard line, but a missed extra point kept the score at 20-14. Later in the half, the visitors' kicking woes continued when they hit the left upright on a filed goal from 24 yards out.

On the ensuing Brown drive, with the ball on the Brown 20-yard line, Dougherty fired a bomb down the middle of the field to hit Raymond in double coverage on the left hash mark, and the All-Ivy sprinter blew past the Rams' defense to give the Bears a 21-20 lead with 7:47 left in the third quarter.

"Going into the game, we knew there were some plays where we could get some throws over the top," Raymond said. "So we were looking for it."

Unfortunately, the defense was unable to hold the lead, and on the next drive, URI took a 27-21 lead on a quarterback keeper from the 1-yard line.

But Bruno came right back behind the strong play of receiver Buddy Farnham '10. Farnham returned the kickoff 32 yards to put the Bears at the URI 40, caught a 20-yard pass to move the ball down the field, and reached to his shoetops on a curl in the end zone to haul in an 8-yard touchdown pass that put Brown ahead 28-27.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Bears missed a chance to increase their lead. With second and goal at the 1-yard line, two rush attempts by Edwards and a sneak by Dougherty failed to find the end zone.

"We made plays on offense, but we didn't make enough plays," said Head Coach Phil Estes. "When you get inside, and you're on the two-inch line, and you come away with no points, that should never happen. You've got to take a little more pride than that."

Later in the fourth quarter, Brown capitalized on great field position after Farnham's 20-yard punt return put the ball on the URI 26. The Bears moved the ball to the seven, and Dougherty's perfectly executed misdirection left the left side of the field wide open for Edwards, who took the hand-off and found the end zone for the third time.

Trailing by eight, Rhody unleashed a dominant running attack, driving 70 yards on 13 plays, capped off by a 1-yard keeper by Cassidy with 1:01 remaining. Needing a two-point conversion to tie, Cassidy rolled out to the right and found receiver Shawn Leonard in the back of the end zone to tie the game at 35.

After the kickoff put the Bears on their own 15 with a minute left, Estes opted to run out the clock to force overtime rather than go for the win in regulation.

"Did you see our field position? Did you see that we had the wind in our face?" Estes said when asked why he opted against trying for a game-winning score. "All it takes is a kick to win the game (for URI). It's as simple as that."

In the first overtime, Edwards scored his fourth touchdown of the game, from the 1-yard line, to give the Bears the lead. But it took the Rams just one play to tie the game, when Casey found a hole up the middle and ran 25 yards for the touchdown.

In the second overtime, URI looked once again to Leonard. Cassidy lofted a pass to the back of the end zone, and the high-jumper for the URI track team made a spectacular leaping catch over Harrison to give Rhody a 49-42 lead.

On Brown's possession, a 9-yard reverse and a 10-yard pass moved the ball to the 6-yard line, and the Bears looked poised to force a third overtime. On fourth-and-goal, Dougherty found Colin Cloherty '10, who caught the ball on the two and lunged for the end zone. But Rhody cornerback Adrian Owen wrapped Cloherty up and brought him down just a yard short of the end zone and the Rams came away with the Governor's Cup

The Brown offense looked impressive, with Dougherty completing 27 of 47 passes for 407 yards, including six completions to Raymond. But against the Rams' offense, the Bears' defense often seemed just a step too slow, and the offense came up just short several times. The loss of the leadership of Bear captains on the field was not an acceptable excuse for Estes.

"No excuses, it doesn't matter who was there," Estes said. "Whoever was there should have stepped up to play ... I'll bet Rhody could list off nine or 10 guys they didn't have, either."

The loss puts the Bears at 1-2 heading into next weekend's home game with the College of the Holy Cross.

"We can be explosive," Estes said. "We just need to be more consistent."



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