Football drops second straight game in loss to Albany

The University of Rhode Island football team fell 35-10 in New York’s state capital on Saturday, as they battled the University of Albany Great Danes in a conference matchup with playoff implications.

The Rams entered the matchup with a record of 4-3, following a loss to Richmond on homecoming weekend. A Football Championship Subdivision team has never missed the playoffs with three or less losses, making the matchup with the Great Danes more pivotal.

On the opening drive of the game the hosts got right to work with a seven play, 75-yard drive ended with a rushing touchdown up the middle. Danes first-year running back Griffin Woodall scored to give the hosts a 7-0 lead.

The Rams could not respond and punted the ball back to the Danes, who, on the ensuing drive, put together a 70-yard drive that ended in a touchdown. Second-year quarterback Reese Poffenbarger found fifth-year wide receiver Julian Hicks near the right hash and Hicks took it in for the score.

The 10-yard pitch and catch gave Albany a 14-0 lead with 5:41 remaining in the opening quarter. The quarter ended with the same score, after both Rhode Island and the Danes punted their next drives.

With 12:35 remaining in the second quarter, the Rams began their first scoring drive of the afternoon. Seventh-year quarterback Kasim Hill found fifth-year wideout Kahtero Summers over the middle, who took it 20 yards to the Albany 31-yard line. On the next play the two connected again, this time for a gain of 27 that brought the Rams to the Danes’ 9-yard line. The drive stalled from there, and Rhody settled for the field goal to get the Rams on the board. The 26-yard kick from first-year Ty Groff cut the Albany lead to 14-3 with 9:46 remaining in the half.

After two scoreless drives, the hosts got back on the score sheet with a drive that electrified the crowd. Starting on their own 3-yard line, the Danes picked up a first down after a seven yard reception from second-year Marqeese Dietz . On the very next play, Poffenbarger found Hicks on the left sideline, who beat his defender and took it 85 yards to the house. The long score gave the hosts a commanding 21-3 lead with under two minutes to play in the first half.

The Rams went three and out on the following drive, returning the ball to the Danes with 1:06 remaining in the half. Albany took just 31 seconds to strike again, as Poffenbarger found fourth-year Brevin Easton deep for an 83-yard touchdown. On the back to back drives, the Danes had two straight touchdowns of over 80 yards coming in just 1:21, making the score 28-3 in favor of Albany heading into halftime.

The third quarter saw two three and outs and zero points scored, an uncharacteristic quarter for both teams. Albany recorded zero passing yards in the quarter, while only attempting to pass four times.

The fourth quarter began similarly to the first, as the Danes put together a nine-play drive that led to a 4-yard touchdown. Albany ran six no-huddle offensive plays in the opening drive of the fourth quarter to throw off the Rams defense. The hustle worked as Poffenbarger threw a dump off to fifth-year tight end Ian Renninger for a four yard score. The touchdown extended the lead to 35-3, a domination of the visiting Rams.

“I don’t think we played our best,” URI Head Coach Jim Fleming said. “It is certainly on my shoulders to get us prepared, I thought we were.”

The Rams did find offensive momentum in the fourth quarter. The visitors put together a nine play, 60-yard touchdown drive in 4:06 to attempt a comeback. The drive was capped off by a 6-yard rushing touchdown to the left from second-year running back Ja’Den Griffin. The score made it 35-10 Danes after Groff knocked in the point after.

Neither team scored following the Rams touchdown, as the game ended in a 35-10 victory for Albany. The Rams fell to 4-4 and have their playoff hopes in jeopardy with three games to play. The Rams next face off against the University of New Hampshire on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Meade Stadium, and the game is available for streaming on FloSports.