Under the floodlights illuminating Brown Stadium Saturday night, quarterback Thomas “TJ” Linta ’18 orchestrated a three-touchdown comeback to seal Brown’s 24-21 victory over the University of Rhode Island and reclaim the Governor’s Cup. After falling to Harvard last weekend, the Bears (2-1, 0-1 Ivy) bounced back by besting the Rams (1-4), who handed the Crimson its only loss. Linta finished with 28 completions for 226 passing yards on the day.
“There’s something about the Governor’s Cup that brings out the best in Brown football,” said Head Coach Phil Estes P’19. “I knew we were going to get that cup back.”
The first half was reminiscent of last week’s loss to Harvard, as Bruno’s lone score came off a field goal and turnovers hindered offensive execution. A fumbled punt in the return in the first quarter gave the Rams the ball back on their own 46 yard line. URI followed with a 54-yard rush into the endzone to put the Rams up 7-0 in the first quarter. The Bears responded by recovering a fumble of their own but settled for three points.
Rhody capitalized on a another fumble recovery late in the second quarter, taking a 14-3 lead before halftime.
The second half was an entirely different story, as Brown hung 21 unanswered points on the Rams in the third quarter.
Bruno went 74 yards in four plays on its first offensive possession after the half as Linta hit Jakob Prall ’20 for a 41-yard bomb to open the scoring drive. Darius Daies ’21 recorded his first collegiate touchdown in his first appearance this season, rushing 22 yards and flipping into the end zone to cut Rhody’s advantage to four.
“The leaders in the locker room really stepped up at halftime trying to get everyone composed,” said free safety Connor Coughlin ’18. “It was still a ball game. We knew we were playing very well and that we just needed to execute a little better than we did in the first half.”
Once the Bears’ offense clicked, there was no stopping it. A pair of rushes from Daies and another clutch reception by Prall put Brown back in the red zone, where Linta found Issac Whitney ’18 for 18 yards and a touchdown, giving Bruno a 17-14 lead — its first of the game.
To cap off the comeback, Daies notched his second rushing touchdown of the night with 2:57 left in the third quarter, bringing the score to 24-14.
“We’re trying everything we can now to get the best people on the field who can give us a spark,” Estes said. “The Darius adjustment was really good. He became our secret weapon.”
With the lead, Brown’s defense kept URI in check, allowing only one more score in the final quarter. A desperate attempt to tie the score resulted in a Rhody field goal sailing wide left as the game clock dwindled. Coughlin broke up three passes on the night but made his presence especially known in the fourth quarter, disrupting a completion on a crucial URI fourth down to settle the final score.
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo presented co-captains Isaiah Thompkins ’19 and Richard “Dewey” Jarvis ’17.5 with the Governor’s Cup, as the team celebrated Brown’s 73rd victory in 102 all-time matchups in the series.
The Bears are back on the road Saturday, traveling to Florida to face off against Stetson University before returning home to reopen conference play against Princeton Oct. 14.