Rhode Island Storms Over UMass 12-6

Special to PhotoSports.com - Nick Murgo - Kingston, RI - November 3, 2007

Rhode Island's defense showed up on this fall day and shut down the much heralded, number 3 nationally ranked UMass minutemen to zero points.  The six points that UMass did get were all on two point safeties.  Safety is a good name for the alert plays made by the PhotoSports game MVP Brian Giannecchini.  Twice, the long snap sailed high over his head.  If Giannecchini had not quickly scampered to pickup the ball in the endzone, UMass would have either scored TD's or they would have had the ball on the one or two yard line.  The third safety was credited to the minutemen's defense as sophomore QB TJ Stefkovich slipped in his own endzone attempting to pass in the fourth quarter.  That safety tied the game 6-6. 

Rhode Island's points came in the first half on two field goals by Giannecchini.  This was no easy task with the wind gusting past 40 miles/hour and with a heavy cold downpour from the remnants of hurricane Noel.  When all is said and done, the game came down to Rhode Island's defense.  Three consecutive turns of possession in the third quarter resulted with UMass starting offensive drives from inside the URI 30.  All three possessions ended without UMass scoring a point.  With the game in the balance, it was senior standout Adrian Owen who came up with the defensive play of the game as he intercepted the UMass QB, Liam Coen, to end the game in the first overtime period.  Needing six points to tie the game after Rhode Island scored on a 1 yard plunge by Stefkovich, Cohen was pressured and threw the ball up toward the endzone when Ownen leapt into the air to snag the interception. 

Coen, a native of Rhode Island (via LaSalle Academy) came into the game needing only 99 yards to become the all time leading passer at UMass.  This game, he and his receivers were really shut down as the stellar defensive play of Rhode Island limited UMass to only 22 passing yards.  Jr runing back from Rhode Island, Jimmy Hughes filled in the B back position for the injured all league fullback,  Joe Casey.   Hughes ran the ball well behind his offensive line as he rushed for over 85 yards on a rain drenched field.  Hughes and Stefkovich both hail from Westport Ct.  This was D.J's first start as he filled in for the also injured Derek Cassidy.   The win for Rhode Island is the first CAA league victory for the team.  Amazing things can happen any Saturday afternoon.  Rhody has been on the other side of big plays for most of the season, today they made a statement that they have great pride and character and that no matter what the record, the players and coaches approach every game with the same determination.  Although Rhode Island was ahead by a paltry two points at half time, when the players took the field in the second half, they brought a high level of enthusiasm onto the field.  They were fired up and actually singing the Rhdoy fight song.  It was a sight and sound to behold, and I am glad that I did.

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Photos by Nick Murgo



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URI Wins over UMass football


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