Bears Topple Columbia and Claim Ivy League Championship
Nov. 19, 2005
New York City - The 2005 Brown football team etched its name in the Bears' record book as the first team to win an Ivy League Championship outright with a 52-21 victory over Columbia at Wein Stadium. The Bears complete the 2005 season in sole possession of first place in the Ivy standings with a 6-1 league mark, including with a 9-1 overall record, the second most wins in Brown football history.
The Bears shared previous Ivy League Championships in 1976 and 1999, and can now lay claim to Brown's first-ever outright Ivy Championship.
"Our seniors have done a great job," said head coach Phil Estes. "They started out 2-8 as freshmen and kept getting better and better. Our seniors have been the leaders of this team. These guys have found a way to play together and never let the other team get in the way of our goals. We won with offense, we won with defense, and we won with special teams."
All 19 Brown seniors started the game for the Bears, but it was senior All-American Nick Hartigan who was the difference once again, finishing his Brown career as one of the most storied running back in Brown history, while also claiming several Ivy League records. Hartigan rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns, while establishing new Ivy League records for career touchdowns (54), career rushing touchdowns (52), and points in a career (324).
Hartigan also established a new Brown single season rushing record with 1,727 yards, second best in Ivy League history, shattering his own mark of 1,498 yards set in 2003. He scored touchdowns on runs of one, five and four yards.
Hartigan's 4,492 career rushing yards are an all-time Brown record and rank third in the Ivy League history. He extended his own Brown single season scoring record, finishing the season with 126 points, third best in the Ivy record book.
"This isn't about individual awards," said Hartigan, who is awaiting word from the Rhodes Scholarship committee about his interview on Friday. "It's all about team."
"I'm as proud of Nick Hartigan as I have been of any football I've ever been associated with," said Estes. It's unbelievable how he balances academics and athletics. He is absolutely amazing."
Brown pulled a little razzle-dazzle on its first punt return when junior Brandon Markey fielded the punt and handed to junior Nkosi Still, who returned the ball 50 yards to the Columbia 11 yard line. Two straight carries by Hartigan put the ball into the end zone with Hartigan running into the end zone from the one-yard line at 12:24 of the first quarter. The touchdown run tied the Ivy League career record for touchdowns in a career with 52, and rushing touchdowns in a career with 50.
Following a fumble recovery by senior James Frazier at the Columbia 28-yard line, sophomore Steve Morgan booted his 18th field goal of the season, a 27-yard boot, with 9;51 left in the quarter to extend Brown's lead to 10-0.
Columbia got on the scoreboard before the end of the first quarter with a 21-yard pass play to pull to within 10-7 of the Bears.
On its next possession, Brown mounted a 72-yard scoring drive in 10 plays, capped off by a 23-yard touchdown pass by junior Joe DiGiacomo to senior tight end David Turner to lift the Bears to a 17-7 advantage with 11:15 left in the second quarter.
Senior Jamie Gasparella picked off his seventh pass of the season with 9:33 left in the quarter and his nine-yard return gave Brown possession at the Columbia 46-yard line. Gasparella's interception set up Brown's next score, a 9-yard run on a reverse by senior wide receiver Efren Blackledge at the 6:32 mark of the quarter to extend Brown's lead to 24-7.
Hartigan peeled off a 75-yard run on Brown's next possession, bringing the down to the Columbia 5-yard line. He then scored his Ivy League record 53rd career touchdown on a five yard run, breaking the career touchdown record of 52 held by Cornell's Ed Marinaro and Princeton's Keith Elias. It was also his 51st career rushing touchdown, besting Maranaro's all-time Ivy record of 50.
The Lions scored just before the half to make the halftime score, 31-14, in favor of the Bears.
Brown marched 84 yards in seven plays to open the second half, opening a 38-14 advantage on a 37-yard touchdown pass from DiGiacomo to junior Lonnie Hill.
Hartigan added his third touchdown of the day to extend his scoring records, running into the end zone from four yards out with 7:39 remaining in the quarter to give the Bears a 48-14 lead. The 39-yard scoring drive was set up by a 31-yard punt return by junior Brandon Markey.
If the game were ever in doubt, Markey provided the knock-out punch with a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown to extend the Bears' lead to 52-14 with 5:35 remaining in the quarter.