The football team fell 29-23 Saturday in the regular-season finale against Dartmouth, which clinched a share of the 2019 Ivy League title with the victory.
The Bears came into Senior Day off of a blowout victory over Columbia in the previous week, which broke a three-year conference losing streak. Bruno came out strong, taking an early 10-point advantage and holding the lead for the majority of the contest, but a fourth-quarter comeback by Dartmouth stifled Brown’s upset hopes. The Big Green took home the Ivy League trophy, but the Bears walked away encouraged after a close loss to the conference’s best squad.
“(Dartmouth) was certainly worthy of the championship … they are a terrific team,” said Head Coach James Perry ’00. “I’m really proud of this group of players. We played our best game of the season today.”
Quarterback EJ Perry ’21 broke the Ivy League record for offensive yards in a season during the third quarter of Saturday’s Ancient Eight battle. He finished the game with 3,678 total yards on the year, shattering the record previously set by Chad Kanoff of Princeton in 2017. “It shows how hard we’ve worked throughout this season on offense to get better,” EJ Perry said.
Brown (2-8, 1-6 Ivy) took an early lead in a methodical first quarter where both teams traded long drives. Dartmouth (9-1, 6-1) kicked off the game with a 10-play, five-minute possession, but the Bears came up with a crucial third-down stop just outside of field goal range to force a punt. Bruno then responded with an 82-yard, nine-minute long march down the field, leading to a first and goal at the Big Green one-yard line. But a goal line stand by Dartmouth limited Brown to a Dawson Goepferich ’20 field goal.
Dartmouth embarked on another lengthy possession as the second quarter got underway, moving 48 yards in 14 plays. But once again, Bruno came up with another important third-down stand to halt the Big Green. Dartmouth’s Connor Davis attempted a 45-yard field goal, but missed the long try to keep Brown in front 3-0. The Bears capitalized on the Big Green miscue as EJ Perry launched a 41-yard pass to receiver Demitri Jackson ’20, who made an over-the-shoulder catch for the big gain. Perry then tossed the first touchdown of the game, finding tight end Emerson Logie ’20 wide-open in the end zone for the score. The scoring connection put Bruno 10-0 over the Ivy League leaders.
The Big Green were able to fight their way back into the game before the first half came to a close. Caylin Parker burned the Brown defense for a 39-yard receiving touchdown to bring Dartmouth back within a field goal. The Bears had an opportunity to build on their lead, but running back Allen Smith ’22 was stuffed for no gain on fourth and one at the Dartmouth six-yard-line with 23 seconds left in the half. Brown struggled on the ground all afternoon, mustering just 75 rushing yards on 31 carries, compared to 412 yards through the air. Still, Bruno held a 10-7 lead over the Big Green heading into the locker room.
As the second half began, Brown once again drove deep into Dartmouth territory, but the Big Green came up with another red-zone stop and forced a 23-yard field goal. Dartmouth then used another big passing play to score its second touchdown of the day, a 24-yard toss from quarterback Derek Kyler to receiver Hunter Hagdorn. The strike gave Dartmouth its first lead of the afternoon, a 14-13 edge.
Brown quickly responded with a double reverse pass play that Perry completed to receiver Livingstone Harriott ’20 for a 41-yard gain. This gave Bruno yet another trip into the Dartmouth red zone, but once again the Big Green defense held firm. The Bears had to settle for another Goepferich field goal to put Bruno back in front 16-14. Goepferich had a perfect kicking performance in his final collegiate game, finishing three-for-three on field goals and two-for-two on extra points.
Perry continued his accurate passing performance on Brown’s next drive, spreading the ball to receivers Scott Boylan ’21, Dan Gemmell ’21 and Harriott. Perry took the ball into the end zone himself to cap the drive, using a misdirection fake before diving for a one-yard touchdown. The drive gave Bruno a commanding nine-point lead as the third quarter drew to an end.
But in the fourth quarter, the Big Green proved why they deserved to be Ivy League champions. With just over 10 minutes left in the game, Kyler calmly completed five straight passes to move Dartmouth 85 yards down the field, including a nine-yard touchdown pass to receiver Drew Estrada. Still down by two, Dartmouth locked down on defense, forcing a three and out to quickly retake possession. Estrada burst past the Bears’ secondary for his second score of the day, a 39-yard touchdown reception. Hagdorn caught the ensuing two-point conversion to put Dartmouth in front 29-23. Suddenly, after the season finale looked dire for the Ivy League leaders, they held a six-point fourth quarter advantage.
The Bears got the ball with 2:13 left in the contest and two timeouts remaining, hoping to pull out a miracle victory. Perry drove Bruno all the way down to the Dartmouth 14-yard-line, but was sacked for a 15-yard loss with 27 seconds left. Perry attempted a last-chance heave into the end zone intended for Boylan, but the pass bounced off the hands of Boylan and into the waiting arms of Dartmouth cornerback Isiah Swann. Swann corralled the interception to seal the Ivy League title.
Despite the last-placed finish in the Ivy League for the third consecutive year, the Bears remain hopeful for 2020. This season, 24 different first-years got playing time for the Bears, so Bruno will return to the field with an experienced group.
Linebacker Brendan Pyne ’20 emphasized the future potential of the team. “We can win a lot of games next year … we played (Dartmouth) extremely tough and had a shot to win at the end of the game,” he said. “With the experience we have now, next season the sky is the limit.”