The football team (3-2, 1-1 Ivy) put on a show for its family weekend crowd with a stunning 28-27 comeback victory in overtime against the Princeton Tigers (2-3, 1-1 Ivy) on Saturday afternoon. The win was Brown’s first against Princeton since October 2015.
“The guys rallied around each other, especially the older guys, I’m very very proud of them,” said Head Coach James Perry ’00 in an interview following the game. Princeton has “a heck of a football team. They’re exceptionally well-coached. We just kept fighting, even when things didn’t exactly go our way.”
Entering the day, the stage appeared set for a heavyweight showdown between the Bears — boasting the FCS’s top passing offense behind quarterback Jake Willcox ’24 — and the Tigers, with the leading total defense in the FCS and who allowed just four touchdowns in four games to open the season.
After an early Bears touchdown, Princeton’s defense proceeded to hold Bruno scoreless through the third quarter, including a second quarter in which the Tigers recorded two interceptions. Reaching the end zone in each of the first three quarters, Princeton took a commanding 21-7 lead.
But Brown finally broke through with a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 21-14 on a direct snap to Stockton Owen ’25. With just under four minutes left and the ball at the 49-yard line, Bears receiver Graham Walker ’24 fumbled a reception to give the Tigers a critical possession, but Brown was able to pull off a stop.
“It was a bad fumble on my part,” Walker said in an interview following the game. “The defense picked me up. All we talk about is ‘Offense, pick up the defense. Defense, pick up the offense. And obviously special teams, pick up the offense and defense.’”
Then, with 1:02 on the clock and the ball at Brown’s 49-yard line, Willcox aired out a pass to receiver Mark Mahoney ’24, who made a one-handed catch and ran for the endzone. Mahoney ended the game with 153 receiving yards and nine catches, both career highs.
With a successful PAT, the Bears leveled the score at 21. After a series of clutch pass breakups by Brown’s defenders, the game headed to overtime. Princeton, receiving the ball first at Bruno’s 25-yard line, scored a quick touchdown to pull ahead 27-21.
But as Princeton’s Sam Massick kicked the football towards the goalposts, linebacker Caleb Moorhead ’25 burst forward, leaping with his hands outstretched and sending the ball bouncing to the ground.
“I got free. I just blocked it,” Moorhead said in a postgame interview. “It felt good.”
On the following possession, Willcox fired a pass to the back of the endzone to the hands of an airborne Walker, who secured the ball for a redeeming touchdown. Willcox completed the afternoon with 378 yards, marking the fourth time in five games this season he’s recorded over 350.
“I’m happy that it was me who made the play, but I would’ve trusted any of the other guys to come down with that catch too,” Walker said.
“They didn’t get down on themselves,” Perry said of the team’s fight. “You talk about Jake throwing to Graham (on) the last play of the game … you knew you could count on them, and sure enough they came through.”
Unlike Princeton’s, Brown’s PAT attempt was good, sending the crowd into a frenzy and sealing a signature 28-27 victory against the team ranked second in the Ivy League preseason poll. It also marks the first time Brown has won three of their first five contests in eight years.
“It means a lot,” Moorhead said. “It’s huge for our program.”
“I think there’s a difference between wanting to win and hating to lose — and I think this group just hates to lose,” Walker explained. “That really drives us to keep pushing, even when things look tough. And ultimately, games like this are just gonna build our confidence up.”
“Brown’s back up. We’re gonna keep trying to prove that,” Walker stated.
The Bears’ Ivy schedule will continue next weekend as they travel to Ithaca to face Cornell (2-3, 1-1 Ivy).
There’s “a lot to build off of, and we’ll need to (build) to play a great Cornell team next week,” Perry said.
Linus is a sports editor from New York City. He is a junior concentrating in English, and when he's out of The Herald office you can find him rooting for the Mets, watching Star Wars or listening to The Beach Boys.