Defense Paves Way for 31-14 Win at Albany

Defense Paves Way for 31-14 Win at Albany

How It Happened
Boosted by a big performance from the defense, Rhode Island scored the first 24 points of the day en route to a 31-14 victory at Albany Saturday afternoon.

Rhode Island (2-6, 1-4 CAA Football) got off to a fast start. After a stop by the defense on Albany's opening possession, L.B. Mack III blocked a punt to set up the Rhody offense at the Albany 44-yard line. Wide receiver Marven Beauvais drew a defensive holding call on fourth down, and then drew a pass interference call in the end zone to help the Rams get into the red zone. Eventually, JaJuan Lawson hit tight end for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The extra point missed, but Rhode Island led 6-0 with 7:03 left in the opening quarter.

A three-and-out that was punctuated by a 12-yard sack by Mack set up Rhody's second possession at the Ram 42-yard line. Lawson engineered an 11-play, 58-yard drive that ended with Cooper plunging in from the 1-yard line on the first play of the second quarter. Lawson converted the two-point try, putting Rhode Island up, 14-0.

On Albany's fourth possession, Kwadir Brown forced a turnover when he sacked Albany's Will Brunson and forced a fumble. Brown also recovered the ball, giving Rhody first-and-10 at the Albany 33. Four plays later, Lawson and Burke connected for their second touchown of the day, a 21-yard strike. Burke dragged two defenders into the end zone with him.

Rhode Island added to the lead in the third quarter when C.J. Carrick hit a 30-yard field goal to push the lead to 24-0. The field goal capped a 14-play, 62-yard drive that ate 6:47 off the clock.

Albany (3-4, 1-3 CAA Football) made things interesting with 14 unanswered points. Karl Mofor's 1-yard plunge got the Great Danes on the board in the third quarter, and a 69-yard fumble return by Eli Mencer pulled Albany within 24-14 with 11:11 remaining in the game. Cooper added a late touchdown to put the game out of reach and give Rhody the 31-14 victory.

Inside the Box Score

  • Redshirt freshman Kwadir Brown had a team-high seven tackles, plus his first career sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery. He also added an interception and broke up his team-leading sixth pass.
  • Sophomore L.B. Mack III had a sack and a blocked punt in the first quarter. The block was Rhody's first in 11 games.
  • Sophomore Brandon Ginnetti had three of Rhode Island's seven sacks. He finished the day with five tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss. He is the first Ram to record three sacks in one game since Isaiah Grier did so against Hofstra on Sept. 8, 2001. 
  • Redshirt senior Mike Ezirike added a pair of sacks and now has three sacks over the last two games.
  • Junior D.J. Stewart tied Brown for the team lead with seven tackles. 
  • Junior Justin Hogan had six tackles and two pass break ups.
  • The defense held Albany to negative-7 yards rushing.
  • Junior tight end Tyler Burke caught two touchdown passes, scoring on pass plays of 10 yards and 21 yards. He entered the day with two career receptions.
  • Sophomore Aaron Parker finished the game with five catches for 69 yards. He has now caught at least one pass in 16 consecutive games. Parker has caught at least four passes in five straight games, and in seven of the eight games this season.
  • Parker was targeted six times. Parker caught five passes and drew a pass interference on the sixth.
  • Rhode Island rushed for a season-high 209 yards.
  • Senior Harold Cooper led the offense with 77 rushing yards and two touchdowns Classmate T.J. Anderson added 55 yards on the ground.
  • Junior JaJuan Lawson passed for 123 yards and two touchdowns, his third straight game with two scoring throws. He also added a two-point conversion run and rushed for 57 yards.
  • Rhode Island had a 7-1 advantage in first downs in the opening quarter, and a 22-7 edge on the day.
  • The game captain was senior offensive lineman Marcus Pantoja and the anchor bearer was senior running back T.J. Anderson.
  • Rhode Island's RECON-RAM Players of the Week were redshirt freshman linebacker Justin Samardich and freshman wide receiver Edward Lee.

What's Next
Rhode Island is home for back-to-back games against No. 1 James Madison and No. 15 Villanova over the next two weeks. JMU visits Meade Stadium first for a noon kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 4.