Coming off one of their worst losses of the season last week against Yale, the football team (5-4, 3-3 Ivy) responded with a hard-fought 21-14 victory over Columbia (2-7, 0-6 Ivy), courtesy of an overtime touchdown from quarterback Jake Willcox â24 to wide receiver Graham Walker â24. With the win, the football team has now posted their best campaign through nine weeks since 2013.
âThatâs a very good (Columbia) team â we got their best effort for sure, and we just responded,â Head Coach James Perry â00 said. Perry was âreally proud of the guys, and weâll just try and build on it.â
âThe win means a lot,â defensive lineman Terrance Lane II â24 said. âThe defense played well, we played our scheme, we played our game. It means a lot for the next game too, because itâs momentum going forward.â
Saturdayâs game in New York City was a low-scoring affair where defenses dominated, with both teams putting up just a single touchdown each through the first three quarters. The Lions started the game with the ball and put up a touchdown after a 15-play, 78-yard drive that culminated in an 11-yard passing touchdown from Columbia quarterback Joe Green to receiver JJ Jenkins.
Brown later answered Columbiaâs touchdown at the beginning of the second quarter when backup quarterback Nate Lussier â24, on third-and-one from the Columbia three-yard line, faked the handoff and ran into the endzone, with the extra point tying the game 7-7. From there, the Brown defense dominated, not allowing another Lions score until the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Bears made the game 14-7 after running back Stockton Owen â25 rushed the ball four yards to conclude a 14-play, 91-yard drive. But Columbia went on to score on the following drive after backup quarterback Caden Bell threw a 32-yard pass to Jenkins to tie the game at 14 and force overtime, where Willcox and Walker ultimately made their decisive connection. After the Bears found the endzone on their opening overtime possession, Brunoâs defense held firm, forcing a turnover on downs to secure the victory.
Wes Rockett â23.5, who continued to stake his claim as one of the Ivy Leagueâs best receivers this year, reeled in 11 receptions for 62 yards. Rockett also returned four punts for an additional 64 yards en route to winning Ivy League honors. Rockett now leads the Ivy League in all-purpose yards with 123.9 per game, ranking 18th in the FCS.
Rockett âis just incredible,â Perry said. âHis returns were huge for us today â¦ Heâs just a complete football player.â
âThe coaches were putting us in positions to succeed all day. I think Jake played a hell of a game,â Rockett said. âEspecially on punt, we (had) a ton of guys just blocking their tails off, trying to open creases for me, especially when (Columbiaâs William Hughes) is gonna kick it that far.â
Perry praised the wide receiver corps as a whole. âWeâve got a deep group there, and you saw it at the end,â he said. Walker âis also a very, very talented kid, and Iâm really proud of him too.â
Willcox completed 31 of 48 passes â a 64.6% completion percentage â for 265 yards and a touchdown, an improvement over his 51.3% completion rate last week against Yale.
âEverything about (Willcox) just oozes confidence, strength and leadership in general,â Rockett said. âI have the utmost confidence in him in any scenario, and you see it in the last play of overtime for us. Just making a play, finding Graham, and Graham does what he does best.â
In a game dominated by both teamâs defensive efforts, Lane II led the Bears with a pair of sacks. After the game, Lane II discussed the importance of preparation, âbeing consistent with my technique and always being ready to play the pass, run or anything.â
âThe (defensive) effort was incredible, the D-lineâs effort especially,â Perry said. âIt starts up front against the D-line and against the O-line â¦ It was a fifteen-round boxing match that went to the end.â
The Bears will now hope to carry their momentum into their season finale at home against Dartmouth (5-4, 4-2 Ivy) Saturday. A win over the Big Green would seal Brown footballâs first winning season since 2013.
As the team looks towards a difficult matchup, Perry made clear his expectations going forward. âI expect us to get better,â he said. âToday, (we) played some of our best football, so weâre just going to try and build off that.â