Football (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) came up just short in the 41st Governor’s Cup to the No. 22 University of Rhode Island Rams (4-2, 2-1 CAA) on Saturday afternoon at Brown Stadium. With a hard-fought 34-30 loss, the Bears now hold a 19-22 record all-time in Governor’s Cup matches.
“I think there’s a lot to build off of,” Head Coach James Perry ’00 said in a press conference following the game. “I’ve got a locker room full of guys who really sweat and worked who are disappointed they didn’t win the Governor’s Cup, but I made sure that they know that I’m proud of them, and I think they’re proud of themselves.”
The Bears’ ground game rushed for 172 yards, blowing past their previous season high of 81 at Harvard. Three different players — Ian Franzoni ’24, Stockton Owen ’25 and Jordan DeLucia ’25 — each rushed for at least 45 yards, with Franzoni and Owen picking up touchdowns as well.
Brown has previously relied primarily on their elite pass offense led by quarterback Jake Willcox ’24, whose 345.3 yards per game ranks first by far in the Ivy League.
“Establishing the run this past weekend was very important for the success of our offense moving forward,” Franzoni wrote to The Herald in a message via Brown Athletics. “Over the course of the first three games, we struggled (to get) the run game going, so it was a huge point of emphasis during last week's preparation.”
“We stressed the fact that if we were able to find success on the ground, it would make our offense that much more dangerous,” Franzoni added.
Franzoni and Perry stressed the importance of Brown’s offensive line in creating the running backs to have success.
“The O-line did an incredible job this past weekend opening up holes for us backs to run through,” Franzoni wrote. “They definitely made our job easy … As long as we practice the way we have been and continue to take care of the ball and run hard, we are confident that we will continue to find success for the remainder of our schedule.”
“For us to move the ball, it takes five guys working together and making those seams,” Perry said. “As we look forward, (with) those guys up front working like they are, Stockton and the three backs all working the way they are, we’ll have a lot to build off of there.”
Willcox, meanwhile, racked up 272 yards — a season-low, in itself a testament to his performance thus far.
While the Bears’ outperformed the Rams both on the ground and in the air — and had over 13 more minutes of possession time — they allowed their first two interceptions of the season and struggled to defend against big plays.
After an early Brown field goal, the rivals entered a back-and-forth first half battle, trading five touchdowns. With the score 13-10 in URI’s favor in the middle of the second quarter, wide receiver Wes Rockett ’23.5 — fresh off 148- and 147-yard performances in his previous two games — capped off a Bears drive by executing a mesmerizing leap on a reverse play, bypassing multiple defenders and barely grazing the corner of the endzone.
“It was my first time in college…that I had the ball in my hands with the option to throw,” Rockett wrote in a message to The Herald via Brown Athletics. “As I saw the opening, it closed fast, and I wasn’t sure if (I) was still in legal passing position behind the line of scrimmage so I just had to stick to running it and the cornerback went low, so I decided to jump to try to get over him and inside the pylon. Luckily it worked out.”
No stranger to highlight-reel catches, the play earned Rockett the #1 spot on ESPN’s College Football Final’s top plays.
“He’s a talented kid being able to contort his body those ways,” Perry said about Rockett. “I think he and Jake have a good rapport because both of them approach the game that way, and I’m confident that they’re only getting better.”
But the Rams wasted no time responding to Rockett, pulling off a 95-yard kick return to retake the lead 20-17. “Everybody knows, that kickoff team knows, we could do a lot differently,” Perry said.
Before the end of the half, Bruno tacked on a field goal to even the score at 20-20. After each side added a touchdown in the third quarter, a 50-yard rush from URI gave them a 34-27 advantage. At the start of the fourth, Bears kicker Christopher Maron ’25 completed a 47-yard field goal kick to bring the score to 34-30.
A URI missed field goal attempt near the end of the quarter gave the Bears the ball with 58 seconds left on the clock. After earning two first downs and advancing to the Rams’s 39-yard line with 14 seconds to go, Willcox’s pass was picked off, effectively ending the contest.
“It’s not like we played a perfect game and came up short,” Perry said. “We played a very imperfect game against a really good team.”
The Bears now embark on a stretch of six straight games against Ivy opponents to close out the season, starting with a family weekend home match-up against Princeton on Saturday at 12 p.m.
“With the six week in-conference run coming up, it will be about consistently playing our brand of football through the last whistle,” Rockett wrote, citing the team’s model of attempting to play fast, “outlast teams and play our best football late in games.”
“We know as a team what we are capable of, and we are nowhere near satisfied with the way we have performed through the first four games,” Franzoni wrote. “Our mindset has always been to win an Ivy League Championship and now that we are getting into the meat of our schedule we have a heightened focus on taking each game one week at a time to try to accomplish our goals.”
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.