The football team earned its first win of the season Saturday in a 35-30 triumph against Bryant University in Smithfield. The matchup was a fortuitous showdown between the past and future of Head Coach James Perry ’00 — it was his first game coaching Brown after two years as head coach at Bryant.
“We bought in completely to the new program under Coach Perry from the beginning,” wrote wide receiver Livingstone Harriott ’20 in a statement to The Herald. “(Coach Perry) led us into this game with confidence and it came out exactly how we knew it would if we played our best.” All eyes were on quarterback EJ Perry ’21, the starter playing his first game for Bruno after transferring from Boston College this offseason. The new QB led the team in rushing yards with 227, pass yards with 183 and two touchdowns.
Neither team stepped up to make plays during the game’s first quarter. The one spike of action came just over five minutes into the game with a 37-yard Bryant field goal. It was not the fire-starter that the Bulldogs had hoped for, and the next ten minutes would pass scoreless. In the final thirty seconds of the period, Brown started to catch fire with wide receiver Scott Boylan ’21. A swift four-yard pass from EJ Perry set Boylan up to notch Brown’s first touchdown of the season and close out the first quarter with a 7-3 lead.
“Our team did a great job handling adversity as it came throughout the game,” wrote EJ Perry in a statement to The Herald. “We were able to (handle adversity) by sticking to our assignments and playing within our coaching.”
The second quarter proceeded similarly to the first. Brown’s offense remained deadlocked with the Bulldogs for the start of the period, but the Bryant offense was able to get rolling. Bryant leapt into the lead with a nine-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Kory Curtis to wide receiver Hunter Hill, turning the tables to give the Bulldogs a narrow 10-7 lead.
“The biggest takeaway from this game was (that there is) room for improvement,” Harriott wrote. “We have so much room to get better. … And (we) still managed to finish the game how we needed to. This is just the beginning of a great ten-game sprint.” In the final 40 seconds of the period, EJ Perry rushed a short but hard-fought one yard, punching in Bruno’s only touchdown of the stanza to enter halftime up 14-10.
Coming out of the half, the QB immediately drove the Bears down the field in a 76-yard drive that chewed up more than six minutes of game time, capping it off with a four-yard pass to wide receiver Demitri Jackson ’20 for a touchdown. As the clock marched on, Bruno’s defense fell apart, allowing a Bryant touchdown after a 12-play drive. The remainder of the period would pass scoreless as Brown missed a critical offensive opportunity after failing to convert a fourth down in Bulldog territory. Going into the final quarter, the Bears held a slight 21-17 edge.
The final period started fast for Bryant, as they pummeled Bruno out of the lead with a two-yard touchdown run to go up four. The Bears wrestled control back from the Bulldogs with EJ Perry launching a pass to Boylan for Brown’s fourth touchdown of the game, taking back the lead 28-24.
“Our pace, communication and EJ’s ability to extend drives when under pressure gave us the opportunities we needed to put the ball in the endzone,” wrote team captain and offensive lineman Nick Allsop ’20 in a statement to The Herald. Then, with just more than six minutes to play in the game, EJ Perry shut the door on the Bulldogs, breaking free for a 94-yard touchdown gallop to put the Bears up by two scores. Bryant went down swinging, scoring a touchdown with time running out, but they went down nonetheless. Brown sailed to victory to take home its first win of the season.
“It ended up coming down to the final seconds,” wrote quarterback Michael McGovern ’21 in a statement The Herald. “We pulled out that victory because we were able to play extremely hard for all 60 minutes. We’re going to stick to our game plan and focus on playing fast. None of that changes week in and week out.”
The Bears have not won an Ivy League game in two seasons, but they will have their first chance for redemption Friday night when they travel to Cambridge to take on Harvard.