Much has been made of the ever-intensifying rivalry between Brown and Yale. That intensity manifested itself on the field Saturday, in what was for both teams one of the fiercest games of the season.

“It is a very emotional game; we have a heated rivalry with them,” captain Tim Penna ’02 said. “It is always a very competitive game; it is just always a game you want to win. In that type of game, a lot of times the tempers flare.”

And while players from both sides did an admirable job of avoiding unsportsmanlike conduct calls, often the referee’s whistle signified just the beginning of the action and not the end of it.

“They play hard, but so do we,” safety Ryan LoProto ’02 said. “There was a lot of hard hitting on Saturday, and sometimes it was after the whistle, from both sides. It all evens out.”

LoProto and Brown receiver Chas Gessner were involved in one of the more questionable moments of the game, late in the first half when Barton Simmons ’04 intercepted a Kyle Rowley pass. During the runback, away from the play, it appeared as though Gessner punched the Yale safety.

“I didn’t see it when it happened,” said Penna, who even after reviewing film of the play said he could not tell whether a punch was thrown. “I think some people thought it was a punch. If so, that was a cheap move. There is no place for that on the football field.”

LoProto, the recipient of the alleged punch, has his own opinion but said he is still not certain.

“I think it was a punch,” LoProto said. “But, whatever. It’s open to interpretation.”

Aside from the after-whistle activity, the game was characterized by its bruising, punishing manner. And while football by its very nature entails those qualities, Saturday the Bears and Bulldogs sustained them for 60 minutes, not for only a few specific plays.

“The game was played really hard,” LoProto said. “Their receivers blocked really hard. Their running back [Mike Malan] is a stud. He runs hard, and he knocked us over several times.”

Neither team was surprised by the manner in which things played out. Estes admitted that while football is always supposed to be physical, this game — and this rivalry — kick things up a notch.

“This is always a tough game,” Brown head coach Phil Estes said. “We knew this was going to be a battle. There is no love lost between either team, and that’s how it should be. We are not supposed to like them.”