It was perfect weather for football on the first Saturday in October at Brown Stadium this afternoon. The Rhode Island Rams football team finally got on the right end of a close game with a 31-28 win over Brown in the 104th meeting between the two programs. In a back-and-forth contest between in-state rival Brown, the Rams scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:43 left in the 4th quarter when QB Redshirt-Junior QB Vito Priore found Senior Aaron Parker in the corner end zone for a 14-yard touchdown reception.
The home team started off the scoring when RB Allen Smith caught a touchdown out of the backfield from former Boston College transfer QB E.J. Perry. Rhode Island scored the next two touchdowns with Priore finding the star WR duo in Isaiah Coulter and Aaron Parker, who just happen to be cousins. Perry found WR Spencer Hemmingway wide-open in the back of the end zone on a 25-yard strike to tie the game at 14. Rhode Island kicker C.J. Carrick put a 34-yard field goal through the uprights with 0:59 remaining in the half to take a 17-14 lead into the locker room.
The only points in the third quarter were scored by RB Zoe Bryant Jr. who capped off a 76-yard drive with a seven-yard run for a score to extend the URI lead to 24-14. Brown’s offense then came alive scoring 14 unanswered points including a two-yard pass from Perry to RB Allen Smith who recorded three touchdowns on the afternoon to retake the lead 28-24.
The Rams defense struggled once again, the unit had allowed 474.3 yards per game through the first four games of the season. Today, Brown took advantage of putting up 550 yards of total offense. In large thanks to QB E.J. Perry, who put on a show for the Bears recording 420 yards passing and three touchdowns in addition to picking up 92 yards on the ground. RB Allen Smith also had a stellar game recording three total touchdowns (two receiving and one rushing) to revitalize an offense that put up just one score in their 42-7 lopsided Ivy League opener loss at Harvard last weekend.
After Smith’s go-ahead touchdown it was up to the Rams explosive offense to answer with 8:20 remaining in the game. Priore led an efficient drive marching down the field before finding Mr. Reliable Aaron Parker for the game-winning touchdown. Priore had an excellent afternoon going 31-44 for 389 yards and three touchdowns. He now has 1,717 passing yards this season which ranks top five among FCS quarterbacks. Priore couldn’t do it without his excellent weapons around him; Coulter and Parker both had career bests today. Isaiah Coulter had 12 receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown today, his mark for receptions and receiving yards were both his career-highs as a Rhode Island Ram. Meanwhile, Parker after finding the end zone twice passed Bobby Apgar to move third all-time in receiving touchdowns in program history with 27.
After the game, Head Coach Jim Fleming looked couldn’t help but smile at the press conference after finally getting a win, after dropping the previous three contests by a combined 15 points.
“Bottomline is, we’ve been through our share of those games and came out on the other end, to see us withstand the onslaught, can’t be minimized. It was a great W.”
The Rams have shown resiliency all year long, today they showed that the ability to finish in a tight game and notch their first victory of the 2019 season to keep the Governor’s cup in Kingston, RI for the second-straight year. URI moves to 1-4 (0-3) on the year while Brown falls to 1-2 (0-1).
Rhody’s next opponent is a Power Five program in Virginia Tech, the Rams will take on the mighty Hokies on Oct. 12 in Blacksburg, VA at 4:00 p.m.