Football takes down Maine to keep playoff hopes alive

Ed Lee records eight catches for 190 yards in 26-22 win

Kasim Hill had 244 yards passing to go along with two rushing touchdowns for the Rams. PHOTO CREDIT: Aidan Cahill

Even the longest droughts come with a rainstorm. Rhode Island football’s rainstorm came as a 26-22 win over Maine, the first win over the Black Bears since 2006.

The back-and-forth battle kept the Rams’ playoff hopes alive and well as they continued to chase the coveted eight-win mark. The victory also featured the dynamic duo of Kasim Hill and Ed Lee connecting for a career-high 190 receiving yards.

The opening drive saw Maine execute a methodical 20-play drive down the field. However, Rhody linebacker Jarrett Martin deflected a pass on third down, forcing a field goal. Maine went up 3-0.

After several scoreless drives by both offenses going into the second quarter, Maine’s offense struck once again. This time a 16-play drive headlined by a 22-yard reception by Montigo Moss. Elijah Barnwell provided the exclamation point on the drive, a rushing touchdown from two yards out. Maine increased their lead to 10-0.

Later in the second, a three-and-out from Maine set up Rhode Island at their own 33 inside the two-minute warning. Hill launched a 63-yard touchdown pass to Lee, trimming the Maine lead to 10-7.

However, before the half was up, a kick return of 58 yards by Zavier Scott placed Maine at the URI 33-yard line. With the excellent field position, the Black Bears were able to add a field goal to their lead, escaping into the half with a 13-7 lead.
Rhode Island started with the ball after the half and took advantage of the opportunity. A long drive featured a 20-yard Gabe Sloat reception, which set up Hill to run the ball in on his own, giving Rhode Island their first lead of the day, 14-13.

Later in the third, Joe Fagnano completed an 18-yard pass to Rohan Jones up the middle for a touchdown, giving Maine the lead back. However, a missed two-point conversion attempt left them with a slim 19-14 lead.

On the very next drive, Hill connected with Lee once again for a 47-yard reception and a facemask penalty on Maine added 15 extra yards to the play. Hill took it himself once again on an eight-yard touchdown scamper to put URI back on top 20-19.

The fourth quarter saw Maine taking the lead back once again. A 39-yard field goal from Cody Williams made the game 22-20 Maine.

However, another pass completion of 22 yards from Hill to Lee catapulted another successful offensive drive for URI, headlined by a touchdown run from Marques DeShields with seven minutes to go. Rhode Island held on for the rest of the game to win 26-22.

Hill finished with 285 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns. Ed Lee finished the game with eight receptions for 190 yards and a touchdown. Their connection stems back to high school, where they both attended St. John’s College High School, and Hill said he couldn’t be happier to see his long-term friend succeed.

“[Ed] works his tail off…and he’s earned everything that is coming to him right now,” Hill said. “I’m happy to see him shining, I’m happy to see him getting the opportunities that he is, and I know it’s going to keep going, going forward.”

Lee and Hill, however, had some miscues with one another early in the first half, even with their pre-existing chemistry. Head coach Jim Fleming, though, never lost confidence in the duo, claiming that their connection has been crucial to the offense.

“We take that combination off the table, it’s going to be tough sledding for the URI Rams,” Fleming said. “There are other guys we can throw the rock to, but as you continue to look through the course of this season, there’s been a special flavor in terms of some really incredible pickups on third and extra that have been big sighs of relief.”

The Rams hope to continue their winning ways this coming weekend when they travel to take on the first-place University of New Hampshire Wildcats. Kickoff will take place at 1 p.m.