Rhode Island 27
University of Massachusetts 24
October 23, 2004
Photos / Commentary Nick Murgo
The University of Rhode Island Running Rams Football team broke a long string of losses to the University of Massachusetts Minutemen (last RI win was 1996). Most of the gameís stats went to UMASS. Of course the only statistic that really counts is the final score. The win didnít come easy and in the fourth quarter many fans were worried that the homecoming would be spoiled by UMASS.
With UMASS ahead, 24 - 19, Rhodyís offense tested the loyalty of the home crowd by giving up the ball on a fumble turnover with only 3:30 left in the game. Rhode Island had taken possession of the ball when Rod Chance intercepted Tim Day at the UMASS 42 and only two plays later gave the ball back to the Minutemen. Then Rhode Islandís defense came up big by holding UMASS to three and out after a double penalty for a chop block and personal foul against UMASS negated a Steve Baylark 32 yard rush. UMASS punted deep into Rhode Island territory when Jerell Jones returned the kick 8 yards.
Look Ref! - Pat O'Neil gets taken down and UMASS
gets a 15 yard holding penalty.
O'Neil had a big defensive game for Rhode Island.
With 2:33 left in the game Rhode Islandís much heralded offense took to the field for one last desperate drive that started on their own 24 yard line. Rhode Islandís offense had answered the call before against Fordham, but could they do it against an Atlantic 10 opponent? Jason Ham took the first handoff for 3 yards. On second down, Jayson Davis had his pass knocked down. On third and seven, Calvin Poole rushed for 24 yards to the UMASS 49 as Davis read the defense perfectly this time.
On first down, Jayson Ham, nursing a bruised shoulder from the first quarter, took the handoff for 4 yards to the UMASS 45. The Minutemen called a timeout with the clock showing only 1:35. Rhode Island had been held scoreless since the second quarter and was still 45 yards away the end zone. UMASS took to the field having to guard against another Davis TD pass and the power option. After the game, coach Brown said however they were not in a pass defense but they still had to guard against it, "because you saw what happened in the first quarter."
Davis took the snap from center Brandon Wenz, sprinted out and Calvin Poole took the pitch. Running behind Jordan Bowers and with a great juke move, Poole made two defenders miss their tackles and took off for 34 yards all the way down to the UMASS 11 where he was forced out of bounds.
On first down, at the 11 yard line, Davis saw the hole in the line, read the defense, and gave the ball to Jayson Ham who busted his way into the end zone behind left guard Shamel Lewis.
Davis rushed for the two point conversion which put Rhody ahead by three points. The offense did answer the bell, and in only 1:11 seconds Poole, Ham and company covered 76 yards in six plays. It is amazing what this team can do when the big O is running on all cylinders with no penalties.
The final dramatics of the game of course was not over. After the kickoff, UMASS fumbled the ball but recovered on their own 31. QB, Tim Day rallied the Minutemen covering 32 yards in just under a minute. Then under pressure from Rhodyís Dusting Picciotti (sacked Day for 8 yd. loss with 30 seconds in the game), Chad Waltrip, Mike Van Wyck, Dan Heffron, and Pat OíNeil, Day threw his final pass for the afternoon going for the end zone. This time it was Raquan Pride who made the big play going up for the interception and coming down with the ball on the one-yard line. The crowd let out a big sigh of relief and then all hands went up with high fives. Rhode Islandís defense had withstood the final assault and preserved the hard fought victory.