The football team (2-4) claimed its first victory against Ivy League competition in dramatic fashion against Cornell Saturday. With 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and Brown trailing by three, Graham Walker ’24 scored the game-winning touchdown to give the Bears a 49-45 victory.
“When you go on the road to Ithaca and get a win, it is a terrific win,” said Head Coach James Perry ’00. “We are building a program here and part of building a program was getting the win at home — we got that against Colgate, and that was a good moment for us as a program. Now, to go on the road to a place like Cornell and get a win is a big deal.”
Brown fell behind to start the game, ending the first quarter down 16-7 with its only points coming on a rushing touchdown from quarterback EJ Perry ’22. After making their way into the red zone to open the second quarter, Brown handed the ball off to running back Ian Franzoni ’24 for his first rush attempt in a Bears jersey. Franzoni found a gap and beelined for the end zone, scoring his first career touchdown and narrowing the deficit to two.
According to Coach Perry, Franzoni’s return from injury will help give Bruno the versatility it wants on offense. “That’s characteristic of the type of football we want to play,” Coach Perry said. “We want to distribute the ball, we throw it to a lot of wide receivers. We want to hand it to a lot of running backs … It’s a great lift having Ian out there.”
On their next drive, the Bears took the lead with a touchdown completion to Hayes Sutton ’23, who finished the game with three touchdowns on five catches. Sutton leads Brown’s receivers with six touchdowns through the first six games of the season.
Sutton said that his offseason training with EJ Perry contributed to his success this year. “We’re building off of last year,” Sutton said. “EJ and I were putting a lot of work in this offseason and I mean, I feel like we’ve just been getting better every game.”
Sutton scored another touchdown to open up the second half before Cornell responded, regaining its two-point lead. The two teams’ defenses battled it out through the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth quarter, forcing five consecutive scoreless drives that held the score at 30-28.
The scoring seal broke with another touchdown by Sutton that gave Brown a five-point lead. Cornell quarterback Jameson Wang marched downfield and responded, finding Curtis Raymond III for a touchdown and Thomas Glover for the two-point conversion.
Brown trailed by three points with just over four minutes remaining in the fourth, needing a field goal to tie or a touchdown to take the lead. At their own 44-yard line, the Bears handed the ball to running back Jordan DeLucia ’25. DeLucia pushed through a hole in the left side of the offensive line and broke a tackle before accelerating into the open field and outrunning Cornell’s defenders for the go-ahead touchdown.
Although the touchdown left time for Cornell’s offense to operate, the Bears didn’t consider running down the clock before scoring. “For us to play fast and be able to get some big runs is characteristic of who we want to be,” Coach Perry said. “As far as time on the clock, you’re certainly never concerned about how quickly you score the football there. We were absolutely thrilled that he did that. And then we had a great chance at the very end of the game to come out and do it again.”
With over two minutes remaining on the clock, Cornell’s offense scored quickly thanks to a 50-yard catch by Raymond and a touchdown reception by Glover.
On the following drive, EJ Perry and the offense had a chance to implement the two-minute drill in a win-or-go-home situation. “We know we can do that drill because we’ve done it before,” EJ Perry said. “Even when the game looked like it was out of hand, we still fought and ran our two-minute drill against Harvard, against URI, against Princeton. And then we got it against Cornell, and it was for the game. We were very well prepared and executed very well.”
To start the drive, EJ Perry ran for four yards and Allen Smith ’22 ran for one before Allan Houston III ’23 caught a five-yard pass for the first down. On the next play, EJ Perry saw daylight and rushed out of the pocket, sliding at Brown’s 48-yard line for a gain of 13 yards.
With less than a minute and 52 yards to go, the Bears took a timeout but did not discuss the possibility of kicking a game-tying field goal. “Every drive we start, whether it’s four minutes, two minutes or the first drive of the game, we want to end the drive in a touchdown,” EJ Perry said. “That timeout, the only thing we stressed was to execute the play call, and that’s our mentality every time, no matter what the situation is — to execute the play that’s called.”
Coming out of the timeout, EJ Perry fired a pass to a wide-open Mark Mahoney ’24 to spot the ball at Cornell’s 30-yard line. On first down, Brown set up to pass, with Sutton, Walker and Wes Rockett ’23 all lining up to the left of the offensive line. Through six games, the three receivers have combined for 1,233 yards, 104 catches and 15 touchdowns.
“Our receiving core has been unbelievable in their preparation and work both in the preseason and the season, and it’s really showed. And (in addition to those three), there’s a whole plethora of guys behind them and guys who have recently gotten back from injury — like Mark Mahoney,” EJ Perry said. “I’m confident that those guys are going to be in the right spots and that they’re going to make a play.”
On the snap, Walker took off from the line of scrimmage and ran along the sideline with a Cornell defensive back in tow. As EJ Perry’s throw arrived, Walker jumped up and reached his arms around his defender’s red helmet, securing the catch and tumbling into the end zone. “I was able to throw that ball up in what was pretty good coverage and Graham just made an unbelievable play,” EJ Perry said. “Those are the type of moments that as an athlete, you really live for and relish and enjoy. It was great to watch him make that play and then to be able to celebrate with him.”
After Brown’s defense held its ground and sealed the 49-45 victory, the Bears took to the locker room. There, they celebrated with a brick taken from the ocean during a team bonding trip to Narragansett beach earlier this year. “We did get a chance to go down to Narragansett, and the next thing you know, the kids are having fun with a brick they found in the ocean,” Coach Perry said. “They took something that they had fun with during the summer into the locker room, which is fun for me to see. At the end of that game, we also sing the ever true Brown fight song — it’s fun to carry on old traditions like that and add our own spin to it, like the brick.”
"We can talk about our pace of play, how hard we practice and all these guys making plays,” EJ Perry said. “But the real reason that we’ve won these two games and played well against Princeton is because of the brick.”