#22 Rhode Island Pulls Away from Bryant in Ocean State Showdown
An explosive second quarter and a record-setting defensive effort paved the way for No. 22/20 Rhode Island to beat in-state rival Bryant 35-21 Saturday night.
Rhody scored 20 unanswered points, using a pair of big strike passes to take the lead. The first score came after a seven-play, 64-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jaylen Smith. URI’s next possession needed just two plays, as Kasim Hill connected with Ed Lee on a 78-yard touchdown pass that put the Rams in front for the first time, 13-7, with 12:54 to go in the second. Later in the period, Hill found Kahtero Summers for a 63-yard score that Summers down the sideline for a 20-7 lead.
The Bulldogs scored just before the half on a 7-yard pass from Eckhaus to AC White to make it a one-score game, 20-14, going into the break.
A dominant third quarter by the Rhode Island defense helped set up a game-breaking score. URI forced a four-play turnover on downs on Bryant’s opening possession, which ended on a James Makszin sack. After Rhody’s ensuing possession stalled, Davey Schaum-Bartocci pinned the Bulldogs at their own 3-yard line with a 47-yard boot. The defense forced a punt, and a 16-yard punt return by Lee coupled with a personal foul called against Bryant gave URI a first-and-10 at the Bulldog 19. Two plays later, Marques DeShields ran it in from 16 yards out for his second touchdown in as many games with URI, putting his team up 27-14.
The defense handled things from there. Rhode Island set a program record with 10 sacks, eight of which came in the second half. Freshman A.J. Pena led the way with 3.5 sacks, tying L.B. Mack III for the second most by a URI player in a single game. Rhody nearly held its second straight opponent scoreless in the second half, as Bryant did not score again until a relatively inconsequential touchdown with 5:29 remaining that pulled the hosts within 12 points at 33-21.
Inside the Box Score
Seven Rams got into the sack column for the defense. Freshman linebacker A.J. Pena had 3.5, while fellow linebackers Jake Fire and Evan Stewart were credited with 1.5 each. Getting to the quarterback were linebacker Jarrett Martin, defensive tackle James Makszin and safety Henry Yianakopolos each had one sack. Defensive tackle Westley Neal, Jr. got a half sack.
The 10 sacks resulted in a net of negative-78 yards. That helped URI hold Bryant to negative-7 yards rushing for the game.
Fire’s fourth quarter sack led to a safety for the Rams, the team’s first since Jarrett Martin recorded one at UAlbany last season. Fire led the team with nine tackles, including 2.5 for loss.
Rhode Island’s defense held Bryant to just 6-of-14 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth down.
Through two games, the Rams have allowed just seven points in the second half.
Wide receiver Ed Lee had his first career 100-yard receiving game, finishing the night with five catches for 135 and a touchdown. He has scored in each of the first two games.
Also scoring for the second straight week was running back Marques DeShields, who had 107 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.
Fellow back Jaylen Smith ran for 89 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries. He also had one catch for 16 yards.
Rhode Island rushed for
Wide receiver Kahtero Summers scored his first touchdown as a Ram on a 63-yard pass from Kasim Hill. Summers – who transferred from Saint Francis – has caught 10 touchdown passes in his last 11 games overall.
Linebacker Jarrett Martin had a sack and fumble recovery for the defense. Martin began his career at Bryant.
Randy Jordan set up Rhody’s first score with a 31-yard kickoff return in the second quarter. He had a strong return game, averaging 34.5 yards on four returns, with a long of 48 yards.
Defensive back Syeed Gibbs made his collegiate debut, playing on special teams and recording his first career tackle on a third-quarter kickoff.
The game captain was safety Malik Gavek, while guard Nick Correia was the anchor bearer.
Rhode Island hosts Delaware in its home opener Saturday, Sept. 17. The game will kickoff at 1 p.m. on FloFootball.com