Brown’s defense keyed on the run, allowing the heroics of a Rhode Island native to take advantage and dominate Saturday.
On a day that featured over 400 yards of offense from each team and another solid performance from quarterback Jeff Mroz ’05, who completed 21 of 35 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns, it was wide receiver Ralph Plumb ’04 who capped the comeback drive at the end of the fourth quarter for a 31-27 Eli victory.
For Plumb, who caught nine passes for 107 yards on the day, though, this was much bigger than an average Ivy win. In front of friends and family, the Rhode Island native beat Brown, the team that snubbed him two years earlier in the recruiting process.
“Brown wanted me to play [defensive] back,” Plumb said. “I wanted to play offense. Coach Siedlecki gave me a shot to do that. It’s real sweet for a team that didn’t really think I could play for them, to come back and beat them.”
Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki could not have been more pleased with the Bulldogs’ comeback efforts.
“That was one of the better wins that you could ever have,” Siedlecki said. “We showed tremendous character. We just played hard on both sides of the ball, and on special teams.”
With 5:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, Yale was down 27-24, 70 yards from the end zone and victory.
They found both about four minutes later.
On third and seven at the Brown 46, Mroz lofted a short pass toward wide receiver Ron Benigno ’04 who, though losing his footing, made a sprawling catch for a 12-yard gain to move the chains.
Four plays later, at the Brown 20 yard line, Mroz called wide receiver Plumb’s number.
“We were actually expecting different coverage,” Plumb said. “As soon as I saw straight man, my stomach dropped. I knew that he was going to look there. I thought I could beat [the cornerback].”
And Plumb did beat him for the winning score.
There was, however, still 1:46 left on the clock — time enough for Brown, and its explosive passing game, led by all-Ivy wide receiver Chas Gessner, to march to Yale’s 9-yard line and give the game a heart-stopping finish.
Two stellar defensive plays by defensive backs Owen Gilbert ’03 and Greg Owens ’04, respectively, ended the furious drive and gave Yale the game.
“The bottom line, it’s big players making big plays,” Siedlecki said.
And the biggest of them all was Plumb’s catch.
“[Plumb] really gets up for the Brown game,” Benigno said. “He was a little bit uneasy, wouldn’t go to sleep. He was really ready for this game, really excited.”
And it showed.