Offense falls just short in homecoming loss to Richmond

A homecoming date with the University of Richmond Spiders ultimately ended in a first home loss for the #22 University of Rhode Island football team on Saturday in a 27-14 upset at Meade Stadium. 

The loss was Rhode Island’s first since a 35-9 score in their top-25 matchup at Villanova on Sept. 23 and only their third on the season. It saw them drop to 2-2 in Coastal Athletic Association play, and 4-3 on the year heading into a vital stretch of the season. The defeat also marked only the second time this year that the Rams failed to put up 34 or more points through the game. 

Richmond’s defense came to play from the first drive, recording six total sacks for an overall loss of 31 yards on the afternoon. Third-year defensive lineman Jeremiah Grant led the charge for the Spiders with three sacks, the most of any Richmond player in a single game since Nov. 6, 2021. 

The visitors took the lead just under three minutes into the quarter when one of three Rhode Island turnovers gave the Spiders the ball on their own 40-yard line. Kasim Hill’s deep pass, looking for the outstretched hands of Marquis Buchanan down the middle, was picked out of the air by Spiders fifth-year Aaron Banks, before first-year starting quarterback Camden Coleman quickly made URI pay for the miscue. His pass found third-year Nick DeGennaro in space for a 12-yard reception deep in the endzone, as the Spiders took the 7-0 lead with 12:12 on the clock after the extra point.

Just under 10 minutes later, the Rams knotted the game when Hill found John Erby down the left sideline for a 32-yard reception with 3:19 left on the clock. They went on to take their only lead of the afternoon just minutes into the second quarter, when first-year Ty Groff knocked a 27-yard field goal attempt between the uprights for the 10-7 lead with 13:11 to play in the half. 

It was not long, however, before Richmond re-established their advantage as DeGennaro’s season-high day continued. He combined with Coleman once again for a career-long 69-yard pass into the endzone with 7:44 left in the half to secure the go-ahead score from behind, 14-10.

Fueled by a strong defense, Richmond never looked back from there. Although neither team added to their total through the third quarter, things went from bad to worse for the Rams when Richmond third-year Andrew Lopez nailed his third field goal of the day, a 36-yard attempt, to extend the visitor’s lead to 17-10 with 14:53 to go in the fourth. Lopez ended his day with a field goal and a perfect 3-for-3 on PATs. 

After a 64-yard punt forced URI to play deep out of their own defensive half, the Rams failed to capitalize on a potential game-tying drive. Richmond once again made Rhode Island pay for their offensive shortcomings, driving down the other way before Spiders second-year quarterback Kyle Wickersham marked his first appearance in nearly a month with a seven-yard rushing touchdown to give Richmond a 24-10 lead, a score that ended up sealing the game.

“[It is a] very disappointing loss,” URI head coach Jim Fleming said. “I thought we had some good stuff in all three phases that we just couldn’t capitalize [on]…It was an ugly game, and that’s just not on us.”

The Rams were able to pull one back with under two minutes to play when Hill capped off a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown to bring the hosts within touching distance of the Spiders, but an unsuccessful onside kick attempt and a last-minute Hail Mary pass swatted away at the Richmond 35 ultimately sealed the Rams’ fate.

“We didn’t execute the onside kick very well,” Fleming said. “We still got the ball back, and we had a chance late to tie it up, which is what you’re hoping for in a game like that, but we just did too little too late. We got beat at home on homecoming [weekend], not a good day.” 

The Rams will look to get back to winning ways on the road on Saturday, taking a trip up north to face another CAA opponent in the University of Albany. Kickoff from Albany is set for 3:30 p.m.and can be streamed on FloSports.