Photo by Autumn Walter | Jajuan Lawson scrambles out of the pocket against Albany Great Danes.
Head Football Coach Jim Fleming’s postgame remarks could not have been more spot on following the Rams disappointing road loss to the Phoenix of Elon University, losing by a final score of 24-21.
“We have a good football team, but we were not good enough to beat number six in the country on the road,” Fleming said.
Rhody was able to strike first late in the first quarter, by way of an Aaron Parker touchdown reception from senior Quarterback JaJuan Lawson. Lawson played in his first game since leaving with an injury against Harvard in Rhode Island’s fourth game of the year. The surprise start of Lawson worked well for him on the stat sheet, as in his first game back Lawson threw for 349 yards, and had three passing touchdowns. Receiver Aaron Parker was the beneficiary of all three Lawson touchdown passes. Along with his three end zone grabs Parker had a total of nine catches for a season-high 190 yards.
The second quarter is where the Phoenix were able to win this game, as they scored 21 of their 24 points. The last two minutes of the first half saw 14 of those points, with Elon Running Back Jaylan Thomas scoring with just under two minutes left in the half on an 86-yard touchdown run. Thomas was the workhorse for Elon on the day, rushed for 222 yards on only 18 attempts. The true backbreaker for the Rams came with only 19 seconds left in the half when Lawson made his only mistake on the afternoon throwing a pick-six, that was returned 86 yards to put the Phoenix up 21-7.
“They are a good running football team,” Fleming said in an interview on GoRhody.com. “It was a 7-7 ball game with two minutes left in the first half and we had them pinned deep. But they hit a big explosion play. Then it looked like we had a chance to come right back and steal some points before the half, but they get the pick-six. Those are two huge plays that stagger you, but we battled back.”
URI made it interesting in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points in the frame, but an Elon field goal that put the Phoenix up 10 with 2:41 to go was able to seal it for the Phoenix, who now sit at number five in the country.
“I am extremely disappointed with the loss but very proud of the way the team played,” said Fleming to GoRhody.com. “I thought we held up through adversity. There were some moments in time when previous versions of the team may have fractured, but we did not. We stayed together.”
Rhode Island now has their backs against the wall in terms of attempting to qualify for the playoffs. The Rams are now seventh in the Colonial Athletic Association conference standings and would need to win their last two games of the year to make the playoffs. First things first, URI will be traveling to Virginia to take on FCS powerhouse James Madison, who are also coming off a tough loss by the hand of the New Hampshire Wildcats.