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Football crushes URI, keeps Governor’s Cup

The Bears saw a solid team effort from Polley ’14 and Spooney ’14 to win the in-state rivalry

Led by two Emory Polley ’14 interceptions and a pair of John Spooney ’14 touchdown runs, the football team defeated the University of Rhode Island 31-14 under the lights Saturday. In doing so, Bruno ensured that the Governor’s Cup will stay on College Hill for the third year in a row.

While Polley and Spooney made the game’s biggest plays, key contributions from a number of offensive sources led to the victory.

“A number of people went out there and made big play after big play,” said Head Coach Phil Estes. “I’m really proud of them.”

Pat Donnelly ’13.5 completed 25 of 39 passes for 220 yards and rushed for 62 in another strong performance. When Spooney came out of the game with an apparent injury in the third quarter, Andrew Coke ’16 and Jordan Reisner ’14 stepped up with 70 and 35 yards on the ground, respectively.

Tellef Lundevall ’13.5 led the receiving corps with 85 yards, and Brian Strachan ’15 and Jordan Evans ’14 both gained more than 45 yards through the air.

In the third quarter, Polley played his part by denying the Rams (2-4) any chance at a comeback. His two interceptions came within seven minutes of each other, the first of which led to a Donnelly rushing touchdown.

“He threw it right to me,” Polley said of his first pick. “I don’t think he even saw me, honestly. It was a good (defensive) play call.”

Spooney started the game off with a bang for Bruno (2-1, 0-1 Ivy). On the first play from scrimmage, the track star dashed slightly fewer than 100 meters — finding a hole up the middle for a 73-yard touchdown. An extra point from Alex Norocea ’14 brought the score to 7-0 in favor of the Bears.

After a relatively quiet middle of the first quarter, URI quarterback Bob Bentsen finished off an eight-play, 65-yard drive by connecting with Robbie Jackson near the goal line. Jackson caught the ball between two Brown defenders, took a hit and stumbled into the end zone to put the Rams on the board. Dylan Smith tacked on the extra point to tie the game at seven.

Early in the second quarter, Bruno responded with a scoring drive of 82 yards. Two completions from Donnelly to Strachan deep in URI territory set up a Norocea field goal to give Bruno the lead, 10-7.

With just 10 seconds left in the first half, Spooney struck again with his second touchdown run of the game from two yards out. Donnelly contributed the key play of the drive by converting a 3rd and 2 in Bruno territory with a 28-yard rush to the URI 24-yard line. Instead of sliding or running toward the sideline like many running quarterbacks, Donnelly ran toward a cluster of URI defenders to pick up eight extra yards.

“I’m a fifth-year senior,” Donnelly said. “If this is going to be the last time I play football, I’m not going to leave any yards on the field. That’s just my mindset. You’re not going to see (Spooney) run out of bounds or slide, so I’m not going to slide.”

An Evans first-down reception set up the Spooney score three plays later. The two second-quarter drives kept the URI defense on the field for nearly 12 minutes.

Bruno started the second half almost as quickly as the first. On its first drive of the half started by Polley’s interception, Bruno took just 1 minute, 26 seconds and five plays to execute a 56-yard scoring drive. The Donnelly to Strachan connection came up big once again, as a 33-yard completion put the Bears on the URI 2-yard line. Donnelly took it from there, running for Bruno’s third score on a play action giving Brown a 24-7 lead.

“That’s the defining moment of the game,” Donnelly said. “Any time you can put your foot down on a team you’re already up on and extend the lead, it takes the wind out of their sails and gives us the momentum for the rest of the half.”

Reisner tacked on the Bears’ final score late in the fourth quarter with an aggressive 23-yard touchdown run, giving Bruno its largest lead of the game.

“He ran like an angry man,” Estes said. “I like (Reisner) as an angry young man. That’s the way we all have to play.”

Both starting running backs sustained injuries during the second quarter. URI tailback Justin Semmes suffered a knee injury and did not return. Spooney exited briefly with an unspecified injury but returned before the end of the half to tally his second score. He left the field again early in the third quarter and did not return to the game.

Estes said Spooney’s status is “not on a need-to-know basis.” It was unclear whether the running back stayed on the sideline because of the injury or because the Bears held a big lead in a non-conference matchup. Regardless, the choice prevented Spooney from rushing for his third straight 100-yard game.

At halftime, Brown honored a group of Rhode Island sports legends, including former Major League Baseball player Bill Almon ’75. The ceremony followed a panel discussion featuring five of the honorees at the Jonathan Nelson ’77 Fitness Center Friday.

Saturday night’s game was the 98th edition of the battle for the Governor’s Cup in which the Bears are 70-26-2. The trophy has been traded between the two teams since 1981.

Next week, Bruno will face in-state opponent Bryant University (3-2) for the first time ever. URI will try to rebound as it travels to play the University of New Hampshire (1-3).


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