Football Season Opener at Central Michigan to Stream on ESPN3

Football Season Opener at Central Michigan to Stream on ESPN3

Rhode Island at Central Michigan
Kickoff: Thursday, Aug. 31, 7:00 p.m. EST
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  • Rhode Island's season opener at Central Michigan will be streamed live on ESPN3.
  • Michael Reghi will have the play-by-play, joined by color analyst Marcus Ray. Ray was a starting safety on Michigan's 2007 national championship team.
  • Rhody's longtime radio team of Steve McDonald and Terry Lynch will have the call streaming on Thursday night on B101


  • Thursday night's game is the first meeting between Rhode Island and Central Michigan.
  • Rhode Island is 0-14 all-time against FBS level teams.
  • Rhode Island's most recent game against a team from the Mid-American Conference was a 48-8 loss at Bowling Green on Sept. 29, 2012.
  • The Rams own one victory over a current member of the MAC. Rhode Island defeated Akron, 35-27, on Nov. 30, 1985. At the time, the Zips were a Division I-AA program.
  • Rhode Island is 1-6 all-time against current members of the MAC. The Rams are 1-0 against Akron, 0-4 against Buffalo and 0-1 against both Bowling Green and Ball State.
  • Rhode Island is looking to win its season opener for the first time since 2009, when the Rams defeated Fordham 41-28.


  • Seniors Harold Cooper and Jose Duncan earned All-CAA Football honors in 2016. Cooper earned second-team recognition as a kick returner, while Duncan grabbed a spot on the third team defensive line.
  • Cooper ranked third among CAA Football players with an average of 25.3 yards per return.
  • He led the nation and was the only player in the league with two kick returns for touchdowns.
  • He had a 99-yard touchdown return at James Madison, and followed it up with a 98-yard score at Elon.
  • It was the third all-CAA Football honor of Cooper's career. In 2015, he was a first-team selection as a kick returner and a third-team pick at running back.
  • Duncan started all 11 games last year and was fifth on the team with 44 tackles.
  • He led Rhode Island with 4.0 sacks and was second on the Rams with 6.0 tackles for loss.
  • Duncan also had a team-best six quarterback hurries.
  • It was the first all-conference honor of his career. 


  • While he is close to cracking the top 10 rushers in program history, senior Harold Cooper already ranks ninth in team history with 3,430 all-purpose yards.
  • He has a chance to join Cy Butler (5,380 from 1993-96) and Brandon Johnson-Farrell (5,083 from 2008-12) as the only Rams to reach 5,000 all-purpose yards. Cooper needs 1,570 this season to do so. He had 1,582 in 2015 and 1,132 last season.
  • The 1,582 all-purpose yards in 2015 were the sixth most in a single season in program history.
  • Cooper has 17 career games with at least 100 all-purpose yards, including six games last season.
  • He had at least 100 all-purpose yards in each of the last four games of the season, including a season-high 297 at Elon (Nov. 12).
  • For his career, Cooper has 1,626 yards rushing, 1,272 kick return and 534 receiving.
  • Cooper has a chance to become the second player in program history with 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving. Jimmy Hughes (2005-08) had 1,663 rushing yards and 1,118 receiving.
  • Cooper was one of three players at the FCS level with two kick returns for touchdowns in 2016, joining Dante Satcher from Robert Morris and Valparaiso's Bailey Gissinger.
  • Cooper is the second player in Rhode Island history with three kick returns of 90+ yards, joining Chris Pierce, who had returns of 98, 96 and 90 yards.
  • Cooper has an average of 24.0 yards per kick return on 53 career attempts. 


  • Senior running back Harold Cooper enters the 2017 season with 1,626 career rushing yards, leaving him just 374 yards shy of becoming the ninth Rhode Island player to reach 2,000 career rushing yards.
  • The last Ram to reach the mark was Joe Casey, who had 2,915 rushing yards from 2005-07.
  • Cooper is 169 yards shy of tying Shyron Sanford (1995-98) for 10th place in program history with 1,795 yards.
  • Cooper has four 100-yard performances in his career, including a career-best 155 yards at Elon on Nov. 12, 2016.
  • Cooper now has 10 career runs of 30 yards or more, with a career long of 70 yards on a rush against Elon (Nov. 12, 2016).
  • It was the longest run in 62 games for the Rams, dating back to a 71-yard run by Steve Probst at Brown on Oct. 1, 2011. 


  • Rhode Island returns four players who started every game in 2016.
  • Senior defensive end Jose Duncan has the team's longest active starting streak with 20 consecutive games.
  • Junior safeties D.J. Stewart and Nas Jones both started all 11 games a year ago.
  • On the offensive side of the ball, redshirt sophomore center Dwayne Scott was the lone player in the starting lineup each week last season. 


  • Rhode Island returns three wide receivers who caught at least 23 passes last season.
  • Senior Harold Buckner III led the team with 28 receptions and was second with 411 receiving yards.
  • He set career highs with nine catches for 141 yards against Maine (Oct. 22).
  • Junior Khayri Denny was second with 25 catches and third with 356 receiving yards.
  • Denny caught at least one pass in 10 out of 11 games in 2016, recording a season-best five for 103 yards at Harvard (Sept. 16).
  • Denny is Rhode Island's active leader with 53 catches through 21 games played.
  • Sophomore Aaron Parker was third on the team with 23 receptions.
  • He also led the team with 441 receiving yards, averaging a whopping 19.1 yards per catch.
  • Parker caught at least two passes in eight of the 10 games he played.
  • In his final two games of the season, he had a combined eight receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Parker caught three touchdown passes over the final four games of the season. 


  • Rhode head added two FBS transfers at quarterback during the offseason, bringing in Tyler Harris from UCF and JaJuan Lawson from New Mexico. Harris will start the season opener, while Lawson is expected to see significant playing time as well.
  • Harris, who completed his degree at UCF, and Lawson both come to Rhode Island with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
  • Out of Pierce County in Georgia, Harris was a three-star recruit for UCF in 2014. He originally committed to SMU, but decided to flip his verbal to UCF. Rated as the No. 25 pro-style quarterback in the nation coming out of the 2014 class, Harris was considered to have one of the strongest arms of any quarterback in the 2014 recruiting class. In addition to SMU and UCF, he also had offers from Alabama and Mississippi State, among others.
  • In his final two high school seasons, Harris passed for more than 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. He redshirted in 2014 for UCF while earning American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team honors. In 2015, he appeared in six games, passing for 308 yards and four touchdowns. Against Tulane that season, he came off the bench to complete 10-of-15 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
  • Also part of the 2014 class of quarterbacks, Lawson was a three-star recruit who had offers from Arizona, Boston College, Cal and Fresno State before deciding on the Lobos.
  • Lawson made his collegiate debut in 2015 in one game against Boise State, and played in three games in 2016. In limited action, he completed 3-of-5 passes for 54 yards and rushed 12 times for 67 yards and one touchdown.
  • During his high school career for Casa Grande, he was the North Bay League Player of the Year as a senior and finished his career with 6,277 passing yards, 62 touchown passes, 2,189 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns.