The University of Rhode Island football team lost their 11th consecutive game this season, this time falling to the Stony Brook University Seawolves 35-14 on Saturday, despite 202 yards on the ground from senior tailback Lyle McCombs.
The loss pushes the team just one game away from its second winless campaign in the last three years and its third season with one or fewer wins since 1999. The last time the squad had a winning season was when the Rams went 8-3 in 2001. Since then, the overall record is 37-110 including the current year.
Though Rhode Island’s football teams have lacked success for a while now, a set of milestones from McCombs were the silver lining for URI last week. In his second game back from a broken finger that sidelined him for six games, the transfer from the University of Connecticut rushed for a career-high in yards and caught two passes for 26 yards against the Seawolves.
The performance earned the third-highest single-game rushing total in school history and the most for a Rhode Island athlete since 2001.
“We wanted to highlight his abilities and get him his touches,” Rhode Island head coach Jim Fleming said during the Colonial Athletic Association’s weekly conference call on Monday. “I thought it was a combination of two things: I thought Lyle ran it extremely well and hit the holes fast.”
In his first attempt of the day, McCombs surpassed 3,000 career rushing yards. McCombs’ performance was the most yards Stony Brook has allowed to one running back since 2006 and just the third time the team has allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.
As has been an unfortunate trend for URI this season, the Rams stayed close in the game until the later portion of the fourth quarter where Stony Brook linebacker Julian Quinton returned a fumble from redshirt freshman quarterback James Caparell 26 yards for a touchdown with just less than seven minutes left. Stony Brook scored again minutes later on a 56-yard rush from Stacey Bedell for his second touchdown of the game. His first came midway through the first quarter on a 75-yard run.
“[We played] 53 minutes of good football and then a turnover and things got out of hand late,” Fleming said. “It’s a really unfortunate finish to a well-played football game.”
In addition to McCombs’ showing, senior Andrew Bose, redshirt junior Tim Wienclaw and sophomore Adam Parker combined for 29 tackles. With his 10, Bose moved into seventh place in school history with 284 tackles.
Caparell completed eight of his 16 passes for a total of 63 yards. Fellow redshirt freshman Mack Lowrie also made an appearance after missing the last four games. He completed three of his five passes for 26 yards. Just a couple of weeks ago, Lowrie’s season was in doubt after it was unknown if he would need surgery to repair what was potentially a torn rotator cuff or dislocation in his throwing shoulder.
With the end of the season now fewer than two days away, Fleming said he is proud of the resilience the team has shown through tough times. He hopes a win this Saturday can give some positives for next year and a winning note to leave on for the seniors.
“I’ve been 11-0 and now I’m 0-11, so I’ve been on both sides of this, but these kids are not acting like you would think a 0-11 football team acts,” Fleming said. “They’re going to come to practice hard for the remainder of this week and we’ll go give our best efforts to win on Saturday.”
The Rams will finish the season with Senior Day this Saturday against Towson University at 1 p.m. at Meade Stadium. The Tigers are tied for ninth place in the Colonial Athletic Association standings with a 4-7 overall record and a 2-5 conference posting.
“I feel like we [the defense] learned against Stony Brook that we can stop teams’ offenses,” junior defensive back Myles Holmes said. “We just need to make plays and not give up explosive plays.”