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Brown beats CCSU 42-20 as offense explodes in second half

Quarterback Jake Willcox ’24, Bears offense continue to dominate in home opener

<p>With the win against Central Connecticut State, the Bears have now started the year 2-1 for the first time since the 2017 season.</p><p>Courtesy of Chip DeLorenzo/Brown Athletics</p>

With the win against Central Connecticut State, the Bears have now started the year 2-1 for the first time since the 2017 season.

Courtesy of Chip DeLorenzo/Brown Athletics

Last Saturday, the football team (2-1, 0-1 Ivy) defeated Central Connecticut State University (1-3, 0-1 Northeast Conference) in a blowout 42-20 win at Bruno’s home opener. With the win against the Blue Devils, the Bears have now started the year 2-1 for the first time since the 2017 season. 

“It’s almost October and (the game was) our first chance to play on Richard Gouse Field,” said Head Coach James Perry ’00. “I thought the kids did incredibly well. Just great to be here.”

The game started with the two offenses going back and forth but failing to score until halfway through the first quarter, when backup quarterback Nate Lussier ’24, in the game for a single play, hit fellow wide receiver Mark Mahoney ’24 for a four-yard touchdown to make the score 7-0. 

In the opening minutes of the second quarter, CCSU quarterback Ricky Ortega threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to running back Malik Thomas to tie the game 7-7. From that point on, quarterback Jake Willcox ’24 took control of the game. Wilcox’s first touchdown came courtesy of a dart down the middle to wide receiver Graham Walker ’24 for an 11-yard score on the subsequent drive. 

Willcox proceeded to light up the scoreboard, throwing a 31-yard bomb to Walker yet again to make the score 21-10 with five minutes left before halftime. A late 43-yard field goal from Central Connecticut then brought the score to 21-13 heading into the break.

But after emerging out of the tunnel to start the second half, the Bears quickly began to dominate in the air and on the ground. 

“I thought the kids did incredibly well. At halftime, I thought our seniors knew how they needed to respond,” Perry said. “They needed to respond physically and attack the game in the second half, and they did that.” 

After defensive linemen Terrence Lane ’24 and Kyle Philbin ’25 combined for a powerful sack to help Bruno’s defense stifle the Blue Devils offense, Willcox hit receiver Wes Rockett ’24 for a wide-open 17-yard score, making it 28-13 just minutes into the third quarter. Central Connecticut responded with an 82-yard rushing touchdown by running back Elijah Howard, which momentarily silenced the rowdy Brown supporters. But it did not take long for the Bears to regain momentum as they drove down the field and third-year tailback Jordan DeLucia ’25 punched it in for a one-yard score. 

After that, the small but vocal home crowd grew increasingly ecstatic with each play.

Toward the end of the third quarter, sophomore receiver Solomon Miller ’26 caught Willcox’s fourth touchdown pass of the game, taking it 68 yards to make the game 42-20 with five minutes remaining in the quarter. Neither team scored in the fourth, leading to a decisive Brown victory. 

Willcox attributed his recent performances to what he’s learned under Perry, a former quarterback for the Bears. “I can't even put it into words how helpful it is,” he said. “Obviously, Coach Perry is one of the best to ever do it in the Ivy League, and as a player, I could not be more grateful.”

Rockett, discussing another standout performance from his quarterback, said that “Jake makes it really easy on us. He’s just such a playmaker, such a smart kid, such a tough guy.” Willcox’s play “definitely builds confidence in us, like, ‘Hey, you work your tail off, and he’s going to get you the ball,’” he added. 

While Willcox added to an increasingly impressive season resume with 386 yards, Rockett continued to show why he is one of the best receivers in the Ivy League. With eight receptions on 11 targets for 148 yards and a touchdown, Rockett finished just one yard short of his record 149 yards, which he compiled just a week ago against the Crimson. 

Rockett was not alone, however, as Walker — who left in the middle of the game due to injury — reeled in five catches on seven targets for 62 yards and two touchdowns. 

While the offense starred in Saturday's game, the defense, which had trouble getting stops against Harvard just eight days beforehand, showed up and caused nothing but havoc for the Blue Devil offense. Third-year defensive back Isaiah Reed ’25 led the team with seven tackles on the day, while senior Aubrey Parker ’24 had his second interception of the season. The team showed off how effective they could be with the offense and defense working in harmony. 

“You talk about playing fast, we created some turnovers today, we were really good with the football,” Perry said. “That’s the attitude of us, and that’s called complimentary football.” 

“It’s fun to watch just attacking and doing things on defense and the guys on offense,” he added. “That was a very, very hard fought game and I know we pulled away at the end there, but against a good team, so we needed to have that, and we got it.”

The Bears hope to continue their recent success as they prepare for another home game Saturday against the University of Rhode Island Rams (3-2, 2-1 Colonial Athletic Association) in the 41st Governor’s Cup. 

“It’s one of the biggest games we play all year; the history, especially,” Willcox said. “There’s history in the Ivy League, but the Governor’s Cup is for real. I think we’re just going to hit the ground running tomorrow and all the guys are already jumping and ready.”

At Saturday’s game, Brown also honored its 2008 Ivy League Championship team, with members including former NFL wide receiver Buddy Farnham ’10. 

Discussing the presence of former Brown greats such as Farnham, Perry said, “I always talk to people about how much tradition this program has, and all we’re trying to do is recapture what Brown has already done.” 

“It is one of my great joys to come here as the head coach and talk about doing what Brown does, winning championships, winning games, and not about some rebuild,” he added. 

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