Starting quarterback Nicholas Duncan ’19 had a strong showing in the football team’s home opener, accounting for three of the Bears’ (1-0) four touchdowns in a 28-23 victory over Bryant University Saturday. Rookie Scott Boylan ’21 woke up the Bear Den with a 95-yard kickoff return for the Bears’ first touchdown. Though penalties plagued Bruno’s offensive efforts, big plays on defense by co-captains Richard “Dewey” Jarvis ’17.5 and Isaiah Thompkins ’19 kept the Bulldogs under control.
“It’s huge to start off with a win,” Jarvis said. “Everyone’s feeling good about it. We’re going to clean up all the mistakes we made … It’s just nice entering the season on a high.”
Brown came out of the gates flying as Jarvis sacked Price Wilson for an eight-yard loss on the first play of the game. After swapping punts, the veteran defensive end recorded an identical sack on the Bulldogs’ second offensive possession. Later in the series, Bryant escaped a sticky 3rd-and-16 after a costly penalty negated an interception by Sebastian Dovi ’19.
Bruno stopped the Bulldogs before they could reach the end zone, forcing Bryant to kick a field goal for the first score of the game. Boylan responded instantly, scoring on his first collegiate touch on the ensuing kickoff.
Bryant had success in the passing game early, outgaining Brown 76 yards to 10 in the first quarter. But Duncan eventually found his rhythm in his first start, finding a reliable target in Jaelon Blandburg ’20. After a Bryant field goal went wide right early in the second, Duncan connected with Blandburg for a 24-yard gain. A six-yard completion to Livingstone Harriott ’20 moved the Bears to midfield. On the next play, Duncan rushed into the endzone untouched for his first score, putting Brown up 14-3.
The Bulldogs secured a touchdown of their own to close out the second quarter, and the teams headed to the locker room with Brown leading 14-10.
The Bears started off the second half with a trick play. A fake fourth down punt that featured a direct snap to Thompkins fooled Bryant, and the junior rushed for 17 to pick up a new set of downs. The Bears burst into the redzone after Duncan found Harriott for a 21-yard gain. Duncan held onto the ball for his second rushing touchdown, putting Brown up 21-10 after the extra point.
Bryant answered with a score of its own. But in the Bulldogs’ next series, Brown’s defense forced and recovered a fumble, resulting in Duncan connecting with Isaac Whitney ’18 for a touchdown.
But the Bears’ defense started feeling the heat late in the fourth quarter as Bryant converted multiple fourth downs.
“I don’t think I’ve ever sweat this much before in-season,” Jarvis said. “Usually it’s not this humid, and a lot of guys were catching cramps all throughout the game … Everyone bore down and kind of dug through it. It was a huge test of resilience, and everyone stepped up.”
The Bulldogs managed one final touchdown but failed a two-point conversion, leaving the score at 28-23. Brown’s defense got a second wind and cut Bryant’s last offensive drive short with a sack by Jarvis and a game-ending interception by Thompkins.
“Knowing you got that win under your belt, you have a little bit of swagger and a little bit of confidence going into the next game,” Jarvis said.
The Bears travel to Harvard to open conference play Saturday at noon, and Head Coach Phil Estes P’18 has clear expectations: “win.”
“We haven’t had a win in a long time against Harvard,” Estes said. “We had a lot of penalties called against us, so we have to clean that up. If we can do that, then we’re going to have a game.”