As the beloved college football season returned, URI took on cross town rival Bryant Saturday night. Rhody started the season the right way with a big 45-21 win against the Bulldogs. With 5,735 fans back at Rhody for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rams put on a complete show for all in attendance. Prior to the season, Head Coach Jim Flemming emphasized Bryant being a very “physically tough football team with quality all over their roster”, however, Rhody was by far the more physical team in this one.
Quarterback Kasim Hill had a pleasant outing, tallying 249 yards passing and two touchdowns through the air while completing 67% of his passes. Hill had a nice day through the ground as well, rushing for 33 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Hill’s deep ball against Bryant may have been the best of his career after throwing a 38 yard touchdown to Pires, and a 41 yard rocket to Woods. Kasim Hill showed why he deserves that QB1 role, especially considering how accurate he was Saturday night.
Senior running back Justice Antrum led the team on the ground, rushing for 96 yards and two TDs on 18 attempts. From start to finish, Antrum’s legs never stopped churning. Having fans back for Justice’s senior year is definitely great to see. The offensive balance between pass and run is one of the many positive outcomes of this game.
Rhody came right out the gate scoring with an Antrum touchdown within the first five minutes of the game. This definitely set the tone for the entire game, as the Rams never let up on the ground. Bryant returned a score on URI to make it 7-7 but with a field goal and a quick score after an INT, URI was then quickly up 17-7. Being up 31-14 at the end of the first half put them into a position to be set for the rest of the game as long as the defense held up. In the second half, the focus shifted to burning the clock, yet Hill never stopped taking his chances downfield. It was the Rams’ offensive aggressiveness that made this game the blowout it was.
As well as the offense played, the defense may have had the better day for Rhody. Giving up 262 total yards, the defense looked much improved last night. Forcing five punts and one interception, the Rhody defense backed the offense quite nicely. This also marked the fewest total yards the Rams gave up since 2018 vs Harvard. Maybe, just maybe this is a sign of things to come defensively this season.
Although Rhody played a spectacular game, the penalties on both sides of the ball could be an issue. URI Football led with 12 penalties, which will be a point of emphasis for Fleming this week in practice. Bryant had 10 penalties of their own so luckily they played somewhat of a sloppy game in terms of turnovers as well.
Whats Next for Rhody?
After URI’s big season opener, their next game is at Albany on September 11th at 7:00 pm.