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Football opens season with loss in Governor’s Cup

Turnovers, defensive mishaps plague Brown in 45-24 defeat to URI

In Brown’s first football game on the new Richard Gouse Field at Brown Stadium, solid performances from captains EJ Perry ’22 and Allen Smith ’22 weren’t enough to secure the Governor’s Cup trophy against University of Rhode Island Saturday. The game ended 45-24 in favor of the Rams (3-0), giving them their best start to a season in 16 years. The Bears (0-1) showed glimpses of a potent offense, but key turnovers and defensive miscues cost them the win.  

Bruno’s defense started the game with intensity, stifling URI’s running game and forcing them to punt after three downs. After the Bears received the punt at their own 40-yard line, Perry and Smith showed no signs of rust as they advanced downfield with a series of completions and runs for short gains. On the second down at URI’s 14-yard line, Perry received the snap in shotgun and dropped back, surveying his options. As Hayes Sutton ’23 streaked past defenders en route to the corner of the end zone, Perry let the ball fly. Sutton turned and leapt, snatching the ball out of the air and dragging his toes across the end zone turf to secure Bruno’s first points of the season.

“Hayes is a phenomenal player and has improved tremendously since 2019,” Perry said. “He showed it not only on that touchdown grab but throughout the entire game. Hayes ran a great route and it was a great catch.”

Brown’s energetic celebration was short-lived, as URI answered quickly with a touchdown coming from a 35-yard connection between dual-threat quarterback Kasim Hill and halfback Justice Antrum.

Hill and Antrum, two key ingredients in URI’s early success this year, made an immediate impact; even when they weren’t running the ball, their presence opened up opportunities for URI to attack using the passing game. “They’re both excellent players,” said Brown Head Coach James Perry ’00. “I thought our guys actually did a really good job trying to defend them. It is what it is — they’re going to get some plays.”

The first of Brown’s crucial offensive miscues occurred immediately after URI’s touchdown, with Perry narrowly avoiding a sack and then throwing a desperation pass into the waiting arms of a URI defender at Brown’s 30-yard line. URI, taking advantage of the exceptional field position, kicked a field goal to make it a 10-7 ballgame. The Rams scored a touchdown on their next drive to take a 17-7 lead into the second quarter.

With under 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Hill scrambled out of the pocket in hopes of converting a third-down pass. Cornerback Cooper DeVeau ’23, reading the play perfectly, made a beeline for Hill and unloaded for the sack to force a URI punt.

“There was no rust on our energy,” Coach Perry said. “I was very happy with (the energy) on the sideline and when we came out of that locker room.”

DeVeau’s electric defensive play and the sideline’s response put a charge into the Bears offense, which steadily marched from its own 17-yard line into the URI red zone. Once the Bears were within 10 yards, Smith took two consecutive rushes — the second of which did the job, tightening the score at 17-14 after the extra point kick. 

Smith, a stalwart of Brown’s offense, had 15 carries and ran for 65 yards on the new turf. “We played pretty fast considering we ran 105 plays,” Smith said. “Even then, we think we can play a little bit faster and take it to the next level. The new turf was great — I think that was reflected by how we were able to make some big plays and move the ball.”

URI started the second half with a resounding sack of Perry that forced a fumble and wrenched possession of the ball away from the Bears. From there, the Rams didn’t look back, running off two touchdowns in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter to take a 31-14 lead. 

Brown then appeared to threaten with a scoring chance, but their foray into URI’s red zone quickly turned sour. In a brutal sequence of events for Bears fans hoping for a comeback, Perry was called for intentional grounding and URI’s defense forced a fumble. The following URI drive was brief but deadly, with a three-yard run by Antrum setting up an 80-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Matt Pires. 

Once again, offensive turnovers by Brown — and URI’s knack for capitalizing on them — proved crucial as the game unfolded. “In addition to just throwing the ball to them twice, we put the ball on the ground a little bit,” Coach Perry said. “Then there were some critical moment errors — when you get in the red zone, what we refer to as situational football, we’re not doing at a high enough level.”

“I think I made a number of mental and physical errors that negatively affected our offense and rhythm,” EJ Perry added.

Brown narrowed the gap slightly with a fourth-quarter field goal to make the score 38-17. On Bruno’s next possession, another critical error led to the nail in the coffin when URI’s Jordan Jones picked off a Perry pass in the end zone and ran it back the entire length of the field for a pick-six. Though Brown scored another touchdown on a pass to Wes Rockett ’23, URI’s hefty lead proved insurmountable. With the 45-24 victory, URI improved to 3-0 on the season and claimed the 2021 Governor’s Cup.

Offensively, Brown’s scarcity of scoring wasn’t for lack of production. Their total yardage exceeded URI’s by nearly 80, and on certain occasions, the Bruno offense appeared to outmatch URI’s defense. “We moved the ball very well — I think we mixed run and pass well,” Coach Perry said. “Execution, when the bullets are flying, is difficult.”

The Bears have six days to rest and recover before they launch into Ivy League play with their game at Harvard Friday. “Our guys, we work hard,” Coach Perry said. “I was not anticipating as many errors, and those are things that we’ll work hard to correct. And we only have six days to do it, so we’ll be back at it tomorrow. It’s a terrific group — I have no doubt they’ll be ready to work.”



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