The football team (2-8, 1-6 Ivy) lost its final game of the season to Dartmouth (9-1, 6-1 Ivy) in a 52-31 shootout at home. Bruno’s 31 points were the most the Big Green had allowed this season. With the victory, Dartmouth claimed a share of the Ivy League title, tying Princeton for the best record in the League at 6-1.
In his final game of his college career, quarterback EJ Perry ’22 threw for 258 yards and one passing touchdown, adding 35 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. He finished the season with a completion percentage of 66.4 and threw for 3,033 yards, 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also ran the ball 111 times for 402 yards and seven touchdowns. Perry’s 3,435 yards of total offense this season were the second most in program history, behind only his own Ivy League record-setting 2019 campaign. He leaves Brown with 7,113 total yards of offense, the second most in program history despite only playing two seasons with the Bears.
A number of other Bears also turned in impressive performances. Wide receiver Graham Walker ’24 caught a season-high 11 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown, bringing his season line to 54-664-6 across ten games. He finished the season tied for the team lead in receiving yards with fellow receiver Wes Rockett ’23, who posted a 56-664-8 line on the year but was held to three catches for 35 yards against Dartmouth.
Receiver Hayes Sutton ’23 hauled in six grabs for 35 yards and a touchdown, bringing his season line to 57-530-7. Running back Allen Smith ’22 turned in a strong performance in his final game, rushing for 75 yards on 21 carries and adding an additional 25 yards on eight catches, bringing his season lines to 140-560-3 rushing and 39-270-1 receiving.
On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Treyvon Hobbs ’24 had a season-high eight tackles and safety Clayton Perrin ’22 picked off his second pass of the season.
The Big Green began the game by forcing a quick punt against the Brown offense. The Bears struggled to contain an elite Dartmouth run game and two-quarterback rotation as the Big Green quickly drove down the field and scored on a QB keeper from Nick Howard, his 14th rushing score of the year. The Bears responded quickly, meticulously marching down the field before Smith was finally able to find the end zone. Brown’s 75-yard scoring drive took 17 plays and included a pair of pivotal fourth-and-short conversions by Smith.
After the Bears’ touchdown, the two teams traded punts, with the Brown defense forcing a pair of three-and-outs. The Bears then mounted another impressive drive, which was kept alive by a completion to Sutton on a key fourth down play. Brown moved quickly down the field and Perry hit Walker in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown, giving Brown a 14-7 lead.
But Brown’s defense struggled to contain the Big Green offense on their next two drives, both of which resulted in touchdowns to bring the score to 21-14 Dartmouth. The first score came off a wheel route where running back Noah Roper was left wide open for a 60-yard touchdown. The Bears tried to counter with an aggressive decision to go for it on fourth and short while deep in their own territory, but they failed to convert. The turnover on downs resulted in a quick Dartmouth score, giving the Big Green a lead they would not relinquish.
The two sides traded field goals before the half after Bruno could not fully capitalize on Perrin’s interception, bringing the halftime score to 24-17 Dartmouth.
Head Coach James Perry ’00 attributed the decision to go for it on fourth down several times to his team’s broader analytics-based strategy. “We’re going to go for it on all fourth and ones,” he said.
The game plan, according to Walker, was to attack Dartmouth’s “conservative” defensive scheme, something Brown succeeded at early on but struggled with as the game progressed. “We came out with the intention to put together some long drives, taking what the defense gave us,” he said. “We did a really good job of that first half. We missed the opportunity … in the second half.”
While the Bears were able to stay close to the Big Green for the first half, the game started to get away in the third quarter. Dartmouth received the opening kickoff and quickly marched down the field and into the endzone.
The rest of the third quarter went similarly for the Bears, who were not able to recover a punt muffed by Dartmouth. The Big Green put together two more long scoring drives, finding the end zone again late in the third quarter and yet again on the very first play of the fourth, bringing the score to 45-17. The Bears did their best to respond, putting together an impressive 14-play drive culminating in EJ Perry rushing for a touchdown, in what would be his final score in a Brown uniform. Dartmouth ripped off a 65-yard rushing touchdown on the second play of the subsequent drive, icing the game by bringing the score to 52-24.
The Bears would go on to score one final time off an 11-yard pass to Sutton from backup quarterback Jake Willcox ’24, his first completion of the season.
Coach Perry came away impressed with the quality of his Dartmouth opponent. “We knew they were a championship team. They played like it today (and) they really played like it all season,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a great challenge (and) we knew we were going to have to play extraordinarily well. At times we did, (but) as the game wore on, some of the things that make them as good as they are obviously showed up.”
Still, despite the loss, Coach Perry was proud of his team and his seniors in particular. The seniors have “worked hard, they’ve worked through a coaching change, they’ve had a lot of close losses and they always stay upbeat,” Perry said. “They, to me, embody what a Brown football player is.”
Though it was difficult for his career to end with a loss, EJ Perry was proud of himself and his team. “We battled in the first half and there (are) gonna be things that we want back and opportunities to make (it) a closer game,” he said. “But to come out and give everything I had is all I could do in this last game.”
Perry called the end of his time at Brown “bittersweet” as he expressed his love for the program. “It was amazing playing for Brown for two years,” he said. “It’s sad to see it come to an end, but I’ll be a supporter of Brown football for the rest of my life. It was truly an unbelievable experience.”
One of the team’s major questions heading into next season is who will replace EJ Perry under center, but Perry himself is optimistic. “It’s an unbelievable (quarterback) room. The strength of that room is really incredible,” he said. “There are guys in all classes that have taken unbelievable steps in my time here … anyone we put out there is gonna be able to run this offense.”
Coach Perry echoed EJ Perry’s optimism. “The quarterback room is the greatest representation of what depth does to a program,” he said. “Everybody in that room is going to compete. We have six really good quarterbacks.”
Coach Perry expects his roster to improve as his players get more and more experienced. “It’s always an older guy’s league,” he said, “Now we’ll be in a position where, instead of relying so heavily on a select group of kids in these really small classes, we will have the depth that is required and really is emblematic of Brown football.”
Walker has high hopes for the team going forward. “Our ultimate goal — a championship as a team — is most important,” he said. “If we fight the way we are going to through the summer, winter and spring and work hard, that’s going to be our goal.”
Peter Swope is the senior editor of digital engagement for The Brown Daily Herald's 133rd Editorial Board. He previously served as a Sports section editor and has also written stories for University News. Peter is a junior from New Jersey studying history.