One game is all that remains on the schedule. It’s arguably the most important game for Rhode Island football in the past 17 years. It’s not for a trip to the playoffs or a conference championship. It’s an opportunity for Jim Fleming and a group of Rams to do something that hasn’t been done in nearly two decades- have a winning record.
It may seem like this season is a failure for the Rams. They started off with a 4-1 record, including a win at No. 15 Delaware to start the year off. Unfortunately, the injury bug found Rhody. With JaJuan Lawson missing multiple games and nagging injuries to the defense URI has found themselves 5-5 entering the last game of the year. Playoffs are out of the question and so is the Colonial Athletic Association title. Sure it would have been nice to play post-season football but the Rams should not hang their horns.
This season has been in the making ever since Fleming took over as head coach. It was a season that no one will forget anytime soon. The Rams highest ranking was no.16 in mid-October after thrashing the Brown Bears. It was the first time there was a number next to their name in nearly 13 years. Speaking of the Brown Bears, URI recaptured the Governor’s Cup by a score of 48-0. That was good for the largest margin of victory in the Cup’s history.
It was a historic season for Lawson as well. The redshirt senior has now thrown for 16 touchdowns this year and is just the second Rhode Island quarterback to reach that milestone. The other quarterback to do so was Tom Ehrhardt, who is considered one the best signal callers URI has ever had. Lawson has shown this year he is one of the best QBs in the CAA.
What Coach Fleming has done here is impressive. He doesn’t have a full trophy case or banners hanging but the culture is there. Two years ago they took the trip down to play James Madison and lost by the biggest deficit in league history, an 84-7 loss to the eventual National Champions. A week ago they went back down there for the first time since that game and lost by only 17. From 77 to 17, the ship is headed in the right direction.
With just one game left for these 2018 Rams, they will take on the University of New Hampshire on Saturday. A win would give Rhody Football a winning record for the first time since 2001. A win would be historic and a loss would hurt. To come this close and fall just one game short.
Before they take the field and even before Saturday comes the Rams should look back at this season and should be proud of what they accomplished. These Rams, who were picked to finish dead last in the conference and now sit at 5th, have put the CAA on notice that this is just the start. The future is very bright for Jim Fleming the Rhode Island Rams.