Rhody Reaches 2-0 With Narrow Win over Albany in CAA Opener
Rhode Island’s defense stood tall, lifting the Rams to a 16-14 victory at UAlbany Saturday night.
Linebacker Andre Blackett came up with a sack on fourth-and-3 from midfield to thwart a last-minute drive by the Great Danes. Rhody (2-0, 1-0 CAA Football) limited UAlbany to just 215 yards of offense en route to the win.
UAlbany (0-2, 0-1 CAA Football) took the opening drive 96 yards in nine plays, throwing an impressive first punch. Jeff Undercuffler hit Mike Gray for a 7-yard touchdown to give the Great Danes an early 7-0 lead.
Rhode Island came right back on the ensuing drive. A 35-yard kick return by freshman Jaylen Smith set up the Rams with great starting field position at the URI 47-yard line. From there, Kasim Hill was 4-of-4 for 33 yards, and added 14 rushing yards to move the ball to the 1-yard line. Justice Antrum plunged in for his third score of the season, but the extra point was blocked, keeping UAlbany in front, 7-6.
The URI defense dominated the rest of the half, forcing six straight three-and-out possessions. Less than a minute into the second quarter, Coby Tippett fielded a punt at midfield and returned it for a touchdown, putting the Rams in front, 13-7.
UAlbany regained the lead with a touchdown drive late in the third quarter. Karl Mofor ran it in from 2 yards out to cap an 11-play, 67-yard drive to grab a 14-13 lead with 3:36 in the period.
Rhode Island again responded, this time driving 70 yards in 14 plays. A 16-yard run by Antrum gave the Rams first-and-goal at the Great Dane 8-yard line, but the drive stalled. C.J. Carrick made a 22-yard field goal to put URI ahead, 16-14, with 13:25 to go.
From there, the defense held on for the victory.
Inside the Box Score
Rhode Island has started 2-0 for the second straight season and the third time in the last four years.
The URI defense held UAlbany to 5-of-17 on third downs and 2-of-4 on fourth downs.
Senior linebacker Andre Blackett had a team-high eight tackles, including the game-clinching sack.
Redshirt junior safety Henry Yianakopolos had five tackles and his first career interception.
After allowing four first downs on the opening drive of the game, Rhode Island’s defense forced six straight three-and-outs.
Freshman defensive tackle Westley Neal, Jr. had a career-high seven tackles, five of which were for losses. He had one of Rhody’s five sacks.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Evan Stewart had six tackles and two pass break ups.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Christian Arrington had seven tackles and one sack.
Redshirt freshman Antonio Carter II had five stops and a pass break up.
Redshirt senior defensive end Andre Bibeault had three tackles, two pass break ups and one sack.
Senior wide receiver Ivory Frimpong had a team-high eight catches for 94 yards.
Senior Justice Antrum averaged 8.0 yards on 14 carries, finishing with 84 yards and one touchdown.
For the second straight game, Rhode Island’s offensive line did not allow a sack. The Rams are averaging 188.0 rushing yards per game and haven’t allowed a sack in 53 pass attempts.
Game captains were linebacker L.B. Mack III and wide receiver Matt Pires, while the anchor bearer was left tackle Lorenzo Thompson.
Rhode Island heads to Brown next weekend to resume the annual Governor’s Cup game. The 39th edition of the rivalry game kicks off Saturday, Sept. 18 at 12:30 p.m.