FOOTBALL: Bulldogs to begin two game road trip facing Brown, All-American quarterback EJ Perry
Yale will face Brown this Saturday, kicking off two straight road games leading up to The Game.
Courtesy of David Schamis
On Saturday, Yale will battle the Brown Bears in Providence, Rhode Island. The contest will mark Team 148’s first of two consecutive road tests as the season winds down.
Brown (2–5, 1–3 Ivy) enters the contest having struggled in conference play and having won only a single game in a 49–45 victory over Cornell three weeks ago. Yale (4–3, 3–1 Ivy), meanwhile, is coming off an impressive comeback win against Columbia. Despite having to travel, the Bulldogs should be comfortably favored to beat Brown, who entered the year sixth in the annual preseason poll. For the second consecutive week, two Elis were honored with Ivy League player of the week distinctions. Running back Spencer Alston ’23 took home Offensive Player of the Week while returner Melvin Rouse II ’22 earned Special Teams Player of the Week for his 86-yard punt return touchdown, the third longest in Yale history.
“At the end of the day, we’re all winners around here,” Rouse said to the News. “We just care about Ivy League championships and putting banners on the wall. So individual accomplishments and recognition just lets us know we’re doing our job.”
Alston also downplayed the importance of individual accolades as the team fights for the Ivy title.
“I’m grateful for the award,” Alston added. “It’s a good feeling, obviously, anytime you get recognized, but … we like winning. Things come with winning. So you know, that’s just always the main focus, everything else on the field will take care of itself. We take it one week at a time and obviously the big goal is to put that ring on our finger at the end of the season.”
Brown is led by senior quarterback EJ Perry, who entered the year as an FCS All-American.
“Perry is the best quarterback I’ve seen in the Ivy League since Ryan Fitzpatrick,” Cornell head coach David Archer said. “He has no weakness, he can run, he can throw. He reads the coverage. He’s elusive in the pocket. He gets a quick release, he’s accurate down the field. He’s outstanding.”
Yale head coach Tony Reno offered a similar assessment of the talented signal caller, who leads the Ivy League in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completions.
“[Perry] is arguably the best player in the Ivy League on offense,” Reno said. “[Perry] is incredibly talented and he hurts you in a variety of ways. He puts the ball on the receivers very well, he runs really well. They do have a really good run scheme as well. So, from a defensive point of view, any week you’ve got to be able to minimize the damage and get off the field.”
Perry was a finalist for the 2019 Bushnell Cup Trophy for best offensive player in the Ivy League. The award was won by Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20, who outdueled Perry in the 2019 meeting between the two.
For Yale, quarterback Nolan Grooms ’24 will take the reins this weekend in what will be his third consecutive start. The South Carolina native is now 2–0 in his first two career starts and has led the offense to average almost 40 points a game over the past two weeks. Grooms has shown himself to be a true dual threat player, completing 67.9 percent of his passes since taking over as starter and also compiling for 153 yards on the ground.
Brown’s weakness has come on the defensive side of the ball, where they have conceded an average of over 40 points per game, 10 more than any team in the Ancient Eight. Brown’s shortcomings on defense reared its ugly head in the Bears’ most recent matchup against Penn.
Brown managed to hold its own through the contest’s first quarter. After the Quakers began the afternoon by marching down the field on eight plays for a 57 yard touchdown drive, the Bears answered right back with a 15-play, 75-yard drive scoring drive of their own.
Notching his 40th touchdown pass on the drive, Perry moved into sole possession of third place on the school’s all-time touchdown passes list. The celebration would be short lived, however, as Penn closed out the quarter with another scoring drive.
With the second quarter underway, the Quakers continued to pick apart the lowest ranked defense in the Ancient Eight and put together another touchdown drive. After a 42-yard pick-six, the Quakers had gone out to a three-touchdown lead and never looked back, going on to defeat Brown 45–17.
Despite a valiant effort from Perry, who completed a career-high 38 passes and threw for over 300 yards for the ninth time in his last 10 games, the Bears fell to 2–5.
The Bulldogs enter this weekend of play with the second-highest ranked passing defense in the Ancient Eight. They will need to maintain their good form against Perry, who has helped his team to the highest rated passing offense in the league with an average of 327 yards per game — nearly 50 more than the next closest school.
“We have a pretty high ceiling and we haven’t even come close to it yet,” Reno concluded.
Yale and Brown will kickoff at 12 p.m. on Saturday.