Losers of 14 games in a row dating back to last season and 29 of its last 32 games, the University of Rhode Island football team once again lacked the winning formula falling to the no. 2 University of New Hampshire Wildcats, 41-14.
The Rams’ defense was up to the challenge in the beginning. Â Freshman linebacker Romeo Masuku came up with a big play early blocking his second punt attempt of the year after URI forced the three-and-out, recovering it at New Hampshire’s 15-yard line. The Rams would gain just four yards on the drive and ultimately ended the drive with a missed field goal, giving the ball right back to the Wildcats.
New Hampshire then capitalized on the first chance it had with wide out RJ Harris reeling in an 80-yard touchdown pass off a flea flicker.
“Harris is a pain in the tail,” Rhode Island head coach Jim Fleming said. “He is a very talented guy. The quarterback puts it on them and they make catches. It was a well-executed play.”
The Rams, however, would answer right back, getting the kickoff and going on an 11-play, 86-yard drive ending with a 46-yard run from senior tailback Lyle McCombs that knotted the score at 7.
“They brought me here to make plays” McCombs said. “I saw an opening on the draw play and we executed. We have had success with the draw plays all year.”
The next drive for the Wildcats would be a long one as they started from their own 25-yard line. UNH went all the way down to the Rhode Island 1-yard line, but the Rams defense proved up to the task with the goal-line stand.
Pinned deep, the Rams would then go three-and-out giving the Wildcats the ball back with a short field. New Hampshire would seize the opportunity when quarterback Sean Goldrich scampered to the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown run, putting his team up 14-7.
Rhode Island got the ball back with just over two minutes left in the half looking to cut into the lead, but suffered its first mistake with a fumble from freshman T.J. Anderson on their own 23-yard line. The fumble would lead to another Wildcats touchdown right before the half on a run by Nico Steriti, giving UNH a 21-7 advantage going into halftime.
Coming out of the intermission, the Rams went 73 yards in just four plays and ultimately scored on a McCombs 6-yard touchdown run cutting the Wildcats lead to 21-14.
“It was nice having him back” Fleming said of Mccombs. “We will get him going more in the coming weeks and watch some more film with him.”
The Wildcats began to create separation after the McCombs score, putting up points on their next two drives, spanning 61 and 69 yards respectively. RJ Harris caught another touchdown on the first drive and Steriti ran the ball in on the second possession. Those scores would give New Hampshire a 34-14 lead on the Rams heading into the fourth quarter.
“We have to have more conviction and belief we can win the football game” Fleming said. “That has to change. We have to through execution and belief believe we can shut a team down and that has to change.”
The Wildcats stormed down the field once more, but the Rams defense held them which to a 36-yard missed field goal from kicker Christian Breda keeping the score 34-14. The last score of the game, again, belonged to the Wildcats with wide receiver Mike Kelly hauling in a 51-yard pass making the score 41-14.
Rhode Island looks to grab their first victory in more than a yearÂ on Saturday as the team travels to Stony Brook University to face the 4-6 Seawolves on their Senior Day. Stony Brook is riding a two-game losing streak after falling to New Hampshire and James Madison University.