#18 URI Beats #10 Delaware With Last Minute Interception To Reach 5-0
Defense and special teams sparked No. 18/20 Rhode Island to a closely-contested 22-15 win over No. 10/9 Delaware Saturday afternoon. With the victory, Rhody improved to 5-0 for just the fourth time in program history.
With Delaware (3-2, 2-1 CAA Football) driving deep in Rhody territory in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Cornerback Jordan Jones thwarted the drive and secured the win when he intercepted Zach Gwynn’s pass for Brett Buckman in the end zone with 23 seconds remaining.
The Rams (5-0, 3-0 CAA Football) had taken the lead earlier in the fourth. With the Blue Hens crossing into URI territory following a 21-yard run by Dejoun Lee, the defense buckled down and forced a punt. Rhody’s Andre Bibealt burst through the middle and blocked the punt, sending the ball to the Delaware 28-yard line, where L.B. Mack III scooped the ball and returned it for a touchdown, giving Rhody the 22-15 lead.
It was Jones who got the momentum started early for the Rams. His interception on the first possession of the game with 14:23 on the clock set up a C.J. Carrick 22-yard field goal.
That was the start of 12 unanswered points for URI. A 1-yard touchdown run by Kasim Hill gave Rhody a 9-0 lead, and a Henry Yianakopolis interception later set up a 25-yard Carrick field goal, helping the Rams take a 12-0 lead into the break.
Delaware got into the end zone on its first possession of the second half when Gwynn hit Thyrick Pitts for a 42-yard touchdown strike. The Blue Hens then blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt by Carrick to set up another touchdown drive. An 8-yard scoring run by Quincy Watson followed by a Watson burst for a 2-point conversion gave Delaware its first lead, 15-12.
Rhode Island responded with a field goal drive. The big play on the drive was a 39-yard pass from Hill to Caleb Warren to help get Carrick in position for a 32-yard field goal to tie the score with 6:39 to go, setting up the late-game heroics by the defense and special teams
Inside the Box Score
Rhode Island turned three Delaware turnovers into six points, while Delaware was unable to convert either of the URI turnovers. Rhody now has a 44-0 edge in points off turnovers over the opposition this year.
This is just the fourth time in program history Rhode Island has opened the year 5-0. The other times were 2001, 1957 and 1898.
This is just the ninth time overall that URI has won five straight games at any point of a season.
The victory was Rhode Island’s third over a Top 25 team in the 2021 calendar year. Last spring, the Rams beat No. 8 Villanova and No. 18 UAlbany in the first two games of the year.
Running back Justice Antrum topped 100 rushing yards for the second straight week. He finished with career highs of 122 yards on 30 carries.
Tight end Caleb Warren led the Rams with four catches for 88 yards.is leading the game with 4 receptions covering 88 yards.
Linebackers Evan Stewart and Andre Blackett led the Rams with 11 tackles each. Stewart also had 1.5 tackles for loss, including a sack.
Cornerback Jordan Jones had two tackles and two interceptions. He has five picks on the season.
Safety Henry Yianakopolos officially had his first career interception, to go with four tackles. Earlier this year, Yianakopolos had an interception taken away by a scoring change following Rhody’s win at UAlbany.
Defensive end L.B. Mack had nine tackles to go with his game-winning touchdown return. He also factored in URI last punt block before Saturday. He had a blocked punt against Villanova on Nov. 11, 2017, 29 games ago.
The anchor bearer for the game was James Makszin, while Joey Kenny and Emil La Marca served as the game captains.
Rhode Island hits the road to play at Towson on Saturday, Oct. 16. Game time is 4 p.m.