October 1, 2005

Bears Roll To 45-35 Win Over Rhode Island To Retain Governor's Cup

Oct. 1, 2005

Providence, RI - Senior All-American runningback Nick Hartigan rushed for 252 yards and scored four touchdowns on runs of 8, 12, 10 and 34 yards, to lead Brown to a 45-35 victory over Rhode Island in the 90th battle for the Governor's Cup, emblematic of Rhode Island football supremacy. Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, Brown class of 1965, was on hand to present the Governor's Cup at the completion of the game and witness Hartigan's 252 yards on the ground, the second best rushing performance in Brown's 128-year football history.

Hartigan, a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, presented to the top player in I-AA football, helped contribute to Brown's 654 yards in total offense, with the Bears rushing for 389 yards and passing for 265 more yards.

The Bears came into the game undermanned, playing without junior All-American linebacker Zak DeOssie, and sophomore linebacker Frank Nuzzo, who were both sidelined due to injury.

The first half was an offensive blitzkrieg by both teams, with 56 total points and 659 combined yards in total offense - 361 yards for Brown and 298 yards by URI.

Rhode Island got on the scoreboard first, opening a 7-0 lead with 10:28 left in the half. Following the ensuing kickoff, Brown took the ball at midfield and confidently drove down the field to tie the game, 7-7, with Hartigan scampering into the end zone from 8 yards out with 7:33 left in the quarter. The big play in the drive was a 22-yard pass play from junior quarterback Joe DiGiacomo to senior wide receiver Efren Blackledge.

The Bears broke out on top to take a 14-7 advantage when junior Brandon Markey broke several tackles to scamper 27 yards into the end zone with 2:05 left in the quarter. On the drive, Hartigan advanced the ball downfield with a strong 35 yard run.

On URI's next possession, Bears' senior cornerback Jamie Gasparella picked off a Rams' pass at the Brown one-yard line and returned it to the Brown 25 yard line. Junior quarterback Anthony Vita navigated the Bears down the field 75 yards with senior Max Tornatore bulling his way into the end zone from the four yard line to lift the Bears to a 21-7 advantage with 10:49 left in the half. The touchdown was Tornatore's first career score.

The Rams' came roaring back and pulled to within seven points of the Bears, 21-14, with a touchdown 7:54 before the end of the first half.

Brown answered immediately to go ahead, 28-14, driving 78 yards in 8 plays, scoring with 5:17 left in the half on a 12-yard touchdown run by Hartigan.

The Rams drew to within seven points, 28-21 when Vita was intercepted on a tipped pass and the rams returned it 16 yards for a touchdown with 1;42 left in the half.

Back came the Bears again, driving 73 yards down the field once again to grab a 35-21 halftime lead on a 10 yard touchdown run by Hartigan, his third score of the day. DiGiacomo connected on two big pass plays in the drive, a 17-yard pass play to senior Jarrett Schreck, and a 25-yard completion to junior Lonnie Hill.

Brown picked up in the second half where they left off in the first half, with sophomore Steve Morgan booting a 24 yard field goal with 10:31 left in the third quarter to extend Brown's lead to 38-21.

Rhode Island came back once again at the start of the second half, scoring a touchdown from five yards out to pull to within 10 points of the Bears, 38-28, through three quarters of play.

Following Gasparella's second interception of the day at the Brown 27 yard line, Hartigan provided the icing on the cake, scoring his fourth touchdown of the day from 34 yards out to lift the Bears to a 45-28 advantage with just 5:41 remaining in the game and putting the game out of reach.

Hartigan's 252 yard performance, second only to Michael Malan's 267 yards against Fordham in 2001, came on 31 carries. Markey also had a big game for the Bears, rushing for 86 yards on 7 carries.

DiGiacomo completed 17 of 27 passes for 223 yards, while Vita passed for 42 yards, completing 3 of 5 passes. Blackledge led all receivers with 6 receptions for 61 yards, while Hill made 4 catches for 109 yards.

Defensively, sophomore Eric Brewer, substituting for DeOssie, came up with 11 total tackles, while sophomores Patrick Fisher and Jose Yearwood were in on 10 tackles each, Fisher also forced and recovered a fumble. Gasparella had nine total tackles to go with his two interceptions. Senior James Frazier moved from defensive end to inside linebacker and came up with seven tackles for the day.