After dropping its Ivy League opener to Harvard last Friday in a disappointing, rain-soaked drubbing, the football team will be back at Brown Stadium under the lights Saturday for the Governor's Cup. In last year's first-ever night game in the stadium's 86-year history, the Bears (1-1, 0-1 Ivy League) topped Harvard (1-1, 1-0) in front of the cheers of 17,350 fans.
This year, as the sun sets, the Bears will take on URI (1-2), who took home the cup last year with a 27-24 overtime win.
"Nobody takes the game lightly," said Head Coach Phil Estes. "It isn't about being a non-conference game."
"We look at this game as kind of David versus Goliath," Estes continued. "Goliath was so much bigger, stronger and faster, and that's a lot like this Rhode Island team. But David had a plan that day, and he executed it to perfection."
The game is a state championship of sorts, as Brown and URI are the Ocean State's two premier football programs. At the State House Tuesday, a ceremonial press conference signified the importance of the game. Estes, Rams' Head Coach Joe Trainer and Gov. Lincoln Chafee '75 P'14 all took to the podium.
Chafee spoke about the history of the matchup between the two teams and joked about how, as both a Brown alum and the governor, his allegiances will be tested. When Estes took to the podium, he was quick to remind the governor of the motto "ever true to Brown," drawing laughter from the crowd.
The sides have faced off 95 times, and while Brown enjoys a 67-26-2 all-time record in the matchup, recent contests have been hard-fought.
"When Brown and URI play, they come to play," Estes said. "It's not about records in the past — it's all about the present. We have two very good football teams that are well-coached and have good game plans."
The game is one that Bears punter and East Providence native Nate Lovett '12 always looks forward to.
"URI is probably the most popular school out of East Providence High, where I went, so it's always a big game for bragging rights between me and my friends," Lovett said.
Estes said he hopes the night game will set a precedent for the future of the rivalry. "I hope that this will be the tradition, having the lights down at each stadium," he said. "We're anticipating an overflow in Providence this Saturday."
This game will also mark the home opener for the Bears' 2011 campaign.
"We're going to have a lot of the student body and a lot of the surrounding community come out and support us, and it'll be a great way to come home," Lovett said. "It's just what we need right now."
Bruno is hungry to bounce back after a forgettable night at Harvard Stadium. The Bears played evenly with Harvard across the board, but five turnovers, along with untimely penalties and miscues in key situations, proved the difference in the game. The Bears have turned the ball over seven times in two games.
"It's something I think we've gotten away from," said co-captain quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11.5. "We were more focused on the game plan and execution, and forgot about the fundamentals and making sure we take care of the ball, especially when we get down into the other team's red zone. When we have a chance to score, we can't squander those opportunities."
One positive from last week's game was the effectiveness of running back Mark Kachmer '13, who had 98 yards rushing. The offense is still searching for an effective balance between the rushing and passing games.
"If you can't run the ball, it's a lot easier for a defense to figure out how to defend you," Newhall-Caballero said. "Once we get the run game going, it opens up a lot of things in the pass game, and we'll be able to do a lot more offensively."
Newhall-Caballero will also look to re-establish his connection with wide receiver Alex Tounkara-Kone '11.5. Tounkara-Kone came blazing out of the gates against Stony Brook with a 149-yard, two-touchdown day, but was kept in check against the Crimson.
"Alex and I are both very proud people," Newhall-Caballero said. "Whenever we can't contribute to the offense, it's a shot in the gut. We watched film together on last week and figured out what we have to do to get better. All it takes is one play, one spark, to get back in rhythm, so we just have to keep grinding and persevere when things get tough."
URI boasts a potent rushing attack led by senior Anthony Baskerville, who is also a threat in the passing game. Last week in the Rams' first win of the season against Fordham University, Baskerville, Deontray Johnson and Travis Hurd each rushed for over 100 yards.
The two teams look to be evenly matched, and with the extra incentive of being able to hoist the Governor's Cup at the final whistle, Brown Stadium's second-ever night game has the potential to be one for the history books.
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.