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Football's offense lacks spark in Governor’s Cup loss at URI

Bears allow three unanswered touchdowns in second half, struggle to score in loss to rival Rams

After reigning supreme for five straight years, the football team surrendered the Governor’s Cup to URI Saturday, falling 28-13 to the previously winless Rams (1-4, 0-2) in the teams’ 101st annual matchup.

It was a sloppy, rain-soaked affair that treated a sparse crowd to a combined 19 punts and eight turnovers between the two teams.

Brown’s (1-2, 0-1 Ivy) only offensive touchdown came on its first possession of the game. An 11-play, 54-yard drive concluded with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Moreno ’17 to Alex Jette ’17. Brown moved the ball with ease to start the game against the Rams’ defense, which had allowed 45 points per game in its four previous losses.

“They were giving us a lot of the shorter routes,” Moreno said. “Jette made a great move inside and they were playing off him, so I hit him quick, and he made a great catch.”

But offensive success was hard to come by for the remaining 55 minutes for Bruno. The lack of an established running game forced Moreno to attempt 50 passes after attempting 49 last week. He completed 20 for 137 yards on Saturday. Game officials toweled the ball after nearly every play, but the persistent rain made for less-than-ideal conditions for a pass-heavy offense.

“It slowed things down a bit,” Moreno said of the rain. “For the receivers, the footing was pretty bad.”

Bruno was also without starting receiver Troy Doles ’16.5 due to injury. Doles had 99 yards receiving and two touchdowns last week against Harvard, but he was injured at the end of the game and sat out Saturday as a precaution.

“Troy is a hell of a player, but Isaac Whitney (’18) came in and did a great job, too,” Moreno said. Whitney had two catches for 29 yards.

Brown’s defense carried the load in the first half, holding the Rams to fewer than 100 yards of total offense and providing a spark at the end of a lackluster half. With just over a minute left in the second quarter, Will Twyman ’17 returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown to give Brown a 13-7 lead at the half.

Brown received the kickoff to open the second half and nearly fumbled the ball away, backing up the offense to the three-yard line to start the drive. On third down, Moreno kept the ball on the read option and fumbled as he was brought down, giving URI the ball five yards from the end zone. Three plays later, the Rams cashed in with a short touchdown run to take back the lead.

The teams’ contrasting offensive approaches showed in the second half. While Brown gave Moreno the reins, URI threw the ball 24 times all game, completing four passes for 42 yards. The Rams committed to the running game, handing the ball off 32 times, a strategy that proved fruitful in the fourth quarter.

After catching a short pass from Moreno, Anton Casey ’19 had the ball wrested away by Derrick Holmes on a play that was officially ruled a fumble. As it had done earlier in the half, URI turned the fumble into points, taking a 21-13 lead on a Harold Cooper 36-yard touchdown run. After forcing a three-and-out, the Rams put the game out of reach with another touchdown run of 42 yards by Cooper, who finished with 135 yards on 18 carries.

The Rams celebrated with Gov. Gina Raimondo on the field after the game, hoisting the Governor’s Cup for the first time since 2010, a span in which the program has gone 9-53 overall.

“It’s a tough one,” Moreno said. “Our goal is to win an Ivy League championship, and that’s still intact. That goal is still very achievable, and that’s how we look at it. Our team is ready to put this one behind us.”

Brown will play one more non-conference game before facing six straight Ivy opponents, as it hosts Stetson Saturday.


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