The Rhode Island Rams football team dropped their first game of the 2013 season tonight, getting rocked by Fordham to the tune of 51-26. Despite the lopsided loss, there were a lot of positives to take away from tonight’s season opener. Hell, the most points they scored in ANY game last season was 24. URI rushed for 277 yards (!!!) after averaging just 80 on the ground in 2012. But big plays doomed the Kingston Rams as they fell short in the shootout, dropping them to 0-1 on the season.
We mentioned the big plays, and there were certainly plenty of them on both sides. Fordham’s first two TDs came on a 29-yard pass and a 32-yard rush to go up 14-0. Rhode Island put together solid drives in the first half, but only had a pair of field goals to show for it, and it was 24-6 at the break. Rhody came out strong in the second half, scoring on their opening drive to make the score 24-12. After a three-and-out, the momentum seemed to be swinging URI’s way, but Bob Bentsen has a pass intercepted by J.Q. Bowers who took it 61 yards for the pick-six. Yet another big play, and Rhody was down by not out. A 28-yard TD run from Robbie Delgado closed the Rams to within 12, but a 49-yard TD pass from Michael Nebrich gave Fordham more cushion.
Every time URI seemed to be closing in, the Bronx Rams came up with a big play. Bentsen hit Andrew Matos with a 20-yard touchdown strike to open the fourth quarter, but Fordham answered back with a 64-yard touchdown heave to put the game out of reach. Rhody allowed TDs of 29, 32, 49, and 64 yards on the night, and the big breakdowns on defense made things look at lot worse than they actually were. It seems silly to say “Well, they actually played really well besides those four HUGE plays!”, but it’s true. But they still count in the stats, and Joe Trainer is going to have to make adjustments to limit the explosiveness of opposing offenses.
Bentsen finished the night 18-31 for 156 yards, a touchdown and two big interceptions. Besides the 61-yard pick-six, he threw another INT midway through the first quarter that led directly to a Fordham TD. Not a great night for the fifth-year senior.
The story on offense was URI running back Robby Delgado. Check these numbers: 18 carries, 113 yards and a touchdown, good for 5.4 yards per carry. But it doesn’t end there – Jordan Sebastian, the other half of Rhody’s two-headed running attack, tallied 91 yards on 15 carries with a TD of his own. As a team, Rhode Island averaged 5.5 yards per carry. This offense is no joke.
On the other side of the ball, Nebrich was the story. The QB completed 17 of his 25 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns. Fordham receivers Sam Ajala and Brian Wetzel caught two TDs apiece, with the former going for over 100 yards on the evening. Rhody did a decent job of limiting Carlton Koonce on the ground, holding him to under 100 yards.
Sure, there’s a good amount to feel good about after this one. But 51 points allowed shouldn’t exactly make Rhody feel warm and fuzzy. They’ll have more than a week to adjust before they take on Stony Brook in their home opener next Saturday. In the meantime, we’ll have much more on tonight’s contest coming up tomorrow.