SATUR­DAY STRUG­GLES

Maine sinks No. 15 Rhode Is­land with last-sec­ond field goal

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By PA­TRICK BURKE Con­tribut­ing writer

KINGSTON — There was a lot at stake in Satur­day’s Colo­nial Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion show­down be­tween No. 15 Rhode Is­land and Maine, as the Black Bears pulled off their sec­ond straight nail-biter of a win. The Black Bears went 54 yards in 51 sec­onds to set up kicker Kenny Doak for a 39-yard game-win­ning field goal in 38-36 vic­tory at Meade Sta­dium.

Both teams came into their 97th all-time meet­ing na­tion­ally ranked and they were knot­ted in a four-way first­play tie with Elon and Tow­son at 2-0 in the con­fer­ence. It was the first con­fer­ence loss for Rhode Is­land (4-2, 3-1 CAA), es­pe­cially sting­ing in front of a stand­ing-room-only crowd for Home­com­ing.

“This was a very dif­fi­cult loss,” URI coach Jim Flem­ing said. “One which had a wealth of things hap­pen that, quite hon­estly, I have never seen be­fore. Two good foot­ball teams bat­tled their tails off. And we were able to bring it back and get in a po­si­tion to win it.

“Never ever in my life have I kicked off from the 35yard line be­fore – I thought about squib­bing it or do­ing some­thing crazy. What hap­pened is on tape; it’s on film for here and eter­nity. The eval­u­a­tion of that tape is very valu­able for every­body.”

Maine (4-2, 3-0 CAA) has won the last 11 meet­ings be­tween the two teams. In a ri­valry that dates back to 1911, his­tory has been kind to Maine as they now lead the all-time se­ries 60-34-3.

“The bot­tom line is we had plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Flem­ing said. “First loss in con­fer­ence, we’ve got to load up go down to Stony Brook.

“My guys are tough guys, a lot are beat up, but we fought in a crazy war and end up los­ing a game. It kind of breaks your heart, and it will be a test of char­ac­ter to get up and get ready to work [Sun­day].”

Just 2:48 into the open­ing quar­ter, Maine, which came into the game with the top-ranked run de­fense in the CAA, went up 7-0 on a 66-yard fum­ble re­cov­ery by se­nior de­fen­sive back Jeff DeVaughn.URI made it 7-3 on a 32-yard field goal from sopho­more kicker C.J. Car­rick.

In his sec­ond start since re­plac­ing in­jured start­ing quar­ter­back JaJuan Law­son, red­shirt sopho­more Vito Pri­ore went 19-for-40 for 256 yards with two touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions. His first in­ter­cep­tion came in the back of the end zone in the first quar­ter. Late in the first, Pri­ore hit ju­nior wide re­ceiver Aaron Parker on 52-yard post route along the vis­i­tor’s side­line. It was Parker’s fifth touch­down of the sea­son to give URI its first lead.

Pri­ore opened the sec­ond quar­ter with a 21-yard pass to se­nior Tyler Burke, who had three catches for 43 yards. Af­ter im­por­tant catches from Parker (nine re­cep­tions for 124 yards) and Isa­iah Coul­ter (three catches for 30 yards). ju­nior play­maker Ah­mere Dorsey ran in a 4-yard score to put URI ahead by nine.

Maine made it 16-14 on a 1-yard run from run­ning back Joe Fitz­patrick in the sec­ond.

Se­nior Nas Jones, who led URI with 12 tack­les, in­ter­cepted the first pass of the sec­ond half. With Dorsey (41 to­tal rush­ing yards on eight car­ries) work­ing out of the Wild­cat for­ma­tion and ju­nior run­ning back Zoe Bryant (59 rush­ing yards on 17 car­ries) do­ing the run game leg­work, URI went up 30-14 with 10:32 left in the third quar­ter.

Dorsey, who had 162 re­turn yards, re­turned a punt to the 30-yard line to set up the drive. Bryant ran in the first from six yards out and plunged the sec­ond one in from the 1-yard line.

The Rams pro­duced a good de­fen­sive stand in the red zone on the next po­si­tion, as they nearly made a play that could have changed the out­come. Ram red­shirt sopho­more Kwadin Brown got his hands on a pass and the ball bounced on his body as he fell to the grass. Jones picked it up out of the air, but the play was called in­com­plete.

Later in the thrid quar­ter, Fer­gu­son (30-for-48 with two touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion) hit red­shirt fresh­man re­ceiver Devin Young for a 10yard touch­down. Fer­gu­son opened up the fourth quar­ter with a four-play 24yard drive and a 6-yard touch­down pass to se­nior re­ceiver Micah Wright (10 catches for 125 yards), mak­ing it, 30-28, af­ter a two-point con­ver­sion at­tempt failed.

At 2:28 in the fourth, Maine took their first lead since the first on a 9-yard run from Fer­gu­son, go­ing up 35-30.

Pri­ore drove the Rams 75-yards down the field on ten plays in 1:37, end­ing it with a two-yard touch­down to Parker. Ear­lier in the drive, red­shirt se­nior Mar­ven Beau­vais made a great 21-yard grab on a long third down con­ver­sion. Maine – who was pe­nal­ized 16 times for 197 yards – also hurt them­selves, as they gave URI at least one first down by rough­ing the passer.

The phys­i­cal­ity be­tween the Maine de­fen­sive backs and the URI re­ceiv- ers was a mini-bat­tle all day, and Parker was right in the mix, get­ting mauled as he ran routes and oc­ca­sion­ally voic­ing his frus­tra­tions to the ref­er­ees. Pri­ore kept with Parker as his tar­get, hit­ting the re­ceiver in the cor­ner of the end zone as Parker boxed out and out-jumped his de­fender for a touch­down grab to put URI ahead. The Rams tried a sim­i­lar play on the two-point con­ver­sion, but Maine snuffed it out.

“We just ran the ba­sic con­cept that we usu­ally run,” Parker said of his sec­ond touch­down, which put URI ahead at the time, 36-35, with less than a minute to go. “I ran the fade, and my quar­ter­back trusted me to go get it, and I got it down.”

“That was very big,” DeVaughn said of Parker’s two-point con­ver­sion at­tempt that they stopped. “We knew we had to make one more stop to just give a chance to Kenny.”

With their penal­ties pil­ing up, Maine got into the weird sit­u­a­tion where URI was kick­ing off from in­side the 50-yard line. URI kicked through the up­rights, and Maine was look­ing at a long field for their fi­nal drive.

“To over­come what we over­came,” Maine head coach Joe Harasymiak said. “On the road and deal­ing with the cir­cum­stances dur­ing the game, that is what this team is about. We were up against it to­day, but these kids showed how bad they wanted to win. The ball doesn’t lie.”

“Like coach said,” Parker con­tin­ued, “we’re go­ing to get back to the draw­ing board, come out in prac­tice and com­pete like we usu­ally do. But now we’ve got a chip on our shoul­der, so we’ve got to take it the next level up in prac­tice.”

URI trav­els to Long Is­land Satur­day to play Stony Brook

Photo by jerry Sil­ber­man / risport­sphoto.com

The No. 15 Rhode Is­land foot­ball team led vis­it­ing Maine by a point with just un­der a minute left in Satur­day’s CAA con­test, but the Black Bears won the con­test, 38-36, a 39-yard field goal by Kenny Doak at Meade Sta­dium.

Photo by Jerry Sil­ber­man / risport­sphoto.com

In his sec­ond start since re­plac­ing in­jured start­ing quar­ter­back JuJuan Law­son, red­shirt sopho­more quar­ter­back Vito Pri­ore (17) threw a pair of touch­downs and a pair of in­ter­cep­tions in a 38-36 de­feat to Maine Satur­day at Meade Sta­dium.

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