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Football opens season with loss in Governors Cup

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In Brown’s first football game at Brown Stadium’s new Richard Gouse Field, solid performances from Captains EJ Perry 22 and Allen Smith 22 were not enough to secure the Governors Cup trophy against the University of Rhode Island on Saturday. The game ended 45-24 in favor of the Rams (3-0), marking their best season start in 16 years. The Bears (0-1) showed a glimpse of a powerful attack, but important turnovers and defensive mistakes cost them the victory.

Brunos defense started the game with intensity, choking URIs in the game and forcing them to kick after three downs. After the Bears received the run at their own 40-yard line, Perry and Smith showed no signs of rust as they marched onto the field with a string of completions and runs for short wins. On second down to URI’s 14-yard line, Perry received the snap in shotgun and fell back, exploring his options. As Hayes Sutton shot 23 past defenders on his way to the corner of the end zone, Perry let the ball fly. Sutton turned and jumped, grabbing the ball out of the air and dragging his toes across the end zone turf to earn Bruno’s first points of the season.

Hayes is a phenomenal player and has improved a lot since 2019, Perry said. He showed it not just at that touchdown, but throughout the game. Hayes ran a great route and it was a great catch.

The Browns’ energetic celebration was short-lived as URI responded quickly with a touchdown coming from a 35-yard link between dual-threat quarterback Kasim Hill and halfback Justice Antrum.

Hill and Antrum, two key ingredients in URI’s early success this year, made an immediate impact; even if they didn’t play the ball, their presence opened opportunities for URI to attack using the passing game. They are both excellent players, said Brown Head Coach James Perry 00. I thought our boys did a really good job defending them. It’s what they’re going to play.

The first of Brown’s crucial offensive miscues occurred immediately after the URIs touchdown, with Perry narrowly dodging a sack and then throwing a desperation pass into the waiting arms of a URI defender at Brown’s 30-yard line. URI took advantage of the exceptional field position and kicked a field goal to make it a 10-7 ball game. The Rams scored a touchdown on their next drive to take a 17-7 lead in the second quarter.

With less than 11 minutes to go into the second quarter, Hill scrambled out of the bag hoping to convert a third-down pass. Cornerback Cooper DeVeau 23, reading the game perfectly, headed for Hill and unloaded for the sack to force a URI point.

There was no rust on our energy, said Coach Perry. I was really happy with (the energy) on the sidelines and when we got out of that locker room.

DeVeaus’ electric defensive play and the sideline reaction set off an attack on the Bears attack, which marched steadily from its own 17-yard line to the red zone URI. Once the Bears were within 10 yards, Smith took two consecutive rushes with the second doing the job, making the score 17-14 on the extra punt.

Smith, an avid of Browns offense, had 15 carries and ran for 65 yards on the new turf. We played pretty fast as we had 105 plays, Smith said. Even then, we think we can play a little faster and take it to the next level. The new turf was great, I think that was reflected in how we were able to make some big plays and move the ball.

URI started the second half with a resounding sack from Perry who forced a fumble and snatched possession from the Bears. From there, the Rams didn’t look back and ran two touchdowns in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter to take a 31-14 lead.

Brown then appeared to threaten a scoring opportunity, but their foray into URI’s red zone quickly turned sour. In a brutal sequence of events for Bears fans hoping for a comeback, Perry was called up for intentional grounding and forced URI’s defenses into a fumble. The next URI drive was short but deadly, with a three-yard run through Antrum setting up an 80-yard touchdown pass from Hill to Matt Pires.

Again, offensive turnovers from Brown and URIs who managed to take advantage of them proved crucial as the game progressed. Besides throwing the ball to them twice, we kind of put the ball on the ground, said Coach Perry. Then there were some critical moment mistakes when you got into the red zone, what we call situational football, didn’t do it at a high enough level.

I think I made some mental and physical mistakes that negatively affected our attack and our rhythm, added EJ Perry.

Brown narrowed the gap slightly with a fourth quarter field goal to bring the score to 38-17. On Brunos’ next possession, another critical foul hit the nail in the coffin as URI’s Jordan Jones picked up a pass from Perry in the end zone and ran it back the length of the field for a pick-six. Although Brown scored another touchdown on a pass to Wes Rockett 23, URI’s big lead proved insurmountable. With the 45-24 win, URI improved to 3-0 on the season and claimed the 2021 Governors Cup.

Offensively, Brown’s scarcity was not for lack of production. Their total distance exceeded URIs by nearly 80, and on certain occasions Bruno’s attack seemed to outnumber URIs’ defenses. We moved the ball really well, I think we had a combination of run and pass, said coach Perry. Execution, when the bullets fly, is difficult.

The Bears have six days to rest and recover before playing Ivy League on Friday with their game at Harvard. Our boys, we work hard, said Coach Perry. I wasn’t expecting so many mistakes, and those are things that work hard to correct. And we only have six days to do it, so come back to it tomorrow. It’s a great group. I have no doubt they will be ready to work.

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