For the first time since 2005, the University of Rhode Island’s football team has started 2-0, with an upset win over the Delaware Blue Hens and a blowout in the home opener over the Albany Great Danes.
In the Delaware game, Rhody was able to strike first after a scoreless first quarter when sophomore running back Justice Antrum recovered a fumble for a touchdown with 10:17 remaining in the first half. Delaware answered back quickly when redshirt junior quarterback Pat Kehoe threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior tight end Charles Scarff. The Blue Hens then tacked on three more points with 35 seconds left in the first half with a 26-yard field goal by Frank Raggo, taking a 10-7 lead into the locker room over the Rams.
Delaware had the ball to start the third quarter, but the Rams were able to force a fumble and then marched down the field, traveling 69 yards on 11 plays. They capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Aaron Parker. On the subsequent Delaware drive the Blue Hens tacked on three more points, this time with a 48-yard field goal by Raggo. The Rams then finished off the third quarter scoring with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Lawson to Burke on a busted play. This capped off a third quarter in which the Rams outscored the Blue Hens 14-3.
However, the Rams were shutout in the fourth quarter, with Delaware scoring a single touchdown by way of another Kehoe touchdown pass. Delaware attempted to go for two extra points and was unable to capitalize, leaving the score at 21-19. Rhode Island got the ball with 6:45 left on the clock. After a Rhode Island three and out on the next possession the Hens had one more shot at taking the lead. With just under five minutes left in the game, senior linebacker Justin Hogan forced a fumble recovered by defensive lineman Brandon Ginnetti two plays into the possession, closing out the win for the Rams. Hogan was able to capture the CAA defensive player of the week award for his crucial play.
A week later in their home opener, Rhody took on the University of Albany Great Danes. The Rams won in convincing fashion, leading 45-7 after three quarters, with a final score of 45-26 with backups finishing off the final quarter of play.
Starting Quarterback JaJuan Lawson was among those pulled, checking out of the game with one of the best games of his career. His final stat line, 22 completions on 28 passing attempts, 317 yards, and four touchdown passes.
In Rhode Island’s first six offensive possessions of the game, Rhode Island scored five touchdowns and a field goal, going a perfect six for six. The leading receiver for the Rams was junior wideout Aaron Parker, who caught nine passes for 146 yards, with one touchdown. Also receiving touchdown passes were wide receivers Isaiah Coulter, Marven Beauvais and tight end Tyler Burke.
Running back Zoe Bryant Jr rushed for 67 yards on 14 attempts and also ran in a touchdown. The Rams were picked dead last in the CAA conference pre-season rankings, something Jajuan Lawson has not forgotten.
“We believe we were a little disrespected at media day, and we kinda kept that chip on our shoulder,” Lawson said. “You could even say it’s the size of a boulder.”
Head Coach Jim Fleming also echoed those sentiments.
“We’re 2-0 in conference and we got three nonconference with an open week ahead of us, so we’re gonna be here for a while,” Fleming said.
The Rams now look forward to this upcoming Saturday, where they will face the University of Connecticut. The Huskies are 0-2 on the year coming off of a 62-7 loss to the Boise State Broncos, with the UCONN defense allowing a total of 820 total yards.