Brown Gridders Topple Dartmouth, 21-18, For First Victory

Nov. 16, 2002

Hanover, New Hampshire - The Brown football team celebrated its first victory of the season, a 21-18 victory over Dartmouth, with the gusto of a world champion.

Brown coach Phil Estes waited patiently into the ninth week of the season for his squad to break into the win column, and was doused by his team with a Gatorade bath in the locker room after the game to celebrate the Bears first victory.

For the past 22 years, Brown and Dartmouth have battle on the gridiron in late November. While the eight-week of the Ivy League football season usually guarantees cold weather, this year's game featured a special mix of snow, sleet and treacherous field conditions.

The game began with the Memorial Field yard stripes cleared off but not much else. Between the yard stripes was a slick layer of snow that became packed-down as the game progressed, producing a surface as slippery as ice.

The Bears, 1-8 overall, 1-5 Ivy, have been unable to mount a solid rushing attack for most of the season due to injuries to their top three runners, including its top back, senior Joe Rackley. Brown showed what its offense is capable of doing with a healthy Rackley carrying the load at runningback.

v Rackley gave the Bears an early 7-0 lead when he powered into the end zone from the 10 yard line after he broke three tackles and dragged three Dartmouth defenders along for the ride. His 10 yard scoring run capped a 14 yard, 79 yard scoring drive.

Brown mounted another long scoring drive on its next possession and jumped out to a 14-0 lead when quarterback Kyle Slager connected with All-American wide receiver Chas Gessner on a two yard scoring pass with 2:08 left in the first quarter. The scoring pass capped a 10 play; 84 yard scoring drive that consumed 4:39. Gessner's touchdown reception was the 35th of his Brown career, second best in Ivy League history.

Dartmouth's defense forced the Brown to punt on its next possession and immediately capitalized. Senior quarterback Brian Mann drove the Big Green 59 yards and connected on a 4 yard touchdown pass to Scott Wedum with 8:24 left in the second quarter. The Big Green extra point sailed wide as Brown held a 14-6 lead.

Following a short Brown punt, Dartmouth's offense came to life once again with Mann weaving the Big Green down the field with pinpoint passing. Mann connected with Jay Barnard on a 10 yard scoring strike with 15 seconds left in the first half. Brown's Jessie Hawkins sacked Mann on the two-point conversion attempt and the Bears went into the locker room with a 14-12 lead.

The Bears received the first break of the second half when senior tackle Brendan Kelly recovered a Dartmouth fumble at the Big Green 41 yard line. After a short completion to Chris Walther, Rackley's 30 yard run advanced the ball to the Big Green five yard line. Two more Rackley runs put the ball at the one line. Slager finally put the ball into the end zone with a one yard sweep, following the left side of the Bears offensive line, to give the Bears a 21-12 advantage with 6:04 remaining in the third quarter.

The Bears knew that Dartmouth wouldn't go down easily. Mann has been one of the top ranked quarterbacks in the Ivy League all season and he used his arm and legs to get the Big Green back into the game.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Mann drove the Big Green 65 yards in nine plays, connecting with Barnard on an eight yard scoring pass with 8:15 left in the game. Sophomore Tyler Lavin's extra point attempt sailed wide to the left and Brown clung to a 21-18 lead.

Neither team could put together a successful drive, and Dartmouth punted the ball away to the Bears with 3:38 remaining to play. The Brown offense needed to take some time off the clock to assure the victory.

Taking over at their own 21 yard line, Slager connected on four of four passes, and Rackley ran for 23 more yards, to enable to allow the Bears to run out the game clock.

Slager finished a strong day by completing 32 of 42 passes for 270 yards. His favorite target was Gessner, the nation's leader in receptions, who hauled in 14 passes for 128 yards. Rackley finished the game with a season high 148 yards on 27 carries, grinding out 130 yards in the second half.

Brown received a strong defensive effort from senior safety Shaun Eidson, who came through with 12 tackles. Bears' freshman cornerback Jason Ching overcame his first experience with snow and came up big for the Brown defense by picking off two passes. Ching, from Honolulu, Hawaii, had never seen snow prior to today's game.