The University of Maine football team’s dominance over the University of Rhode Island continued on Saturday at Meade Stadium in Kingston, Rhode Island.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Derek Robertson threw a career-high four touchdown passes and sophomore running back Freddie Brock rushed for a career-best 140 yards on 20 carries, including a game-clinching 18-yard TD run as UMaine beat No. 24-ranked URI for the 14th straight time 45-24.
UMaine improved to 4-4 overall, 3-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association after posting its third straight win.
URI is now 5-3 and 3-3 after suffering its third consecutive loss.
“That was a quality win over a ranked team,” said UMaine head football coach Nick Charlton.
UMaine racked up 528 yards of offense including 264 rushing yards, which are both season-highs. The Black Bears ran the ball 44 times.
Elijah Barnwell complemented Brock with 65 yards on 16 carries and Zavier Scott added 34 on seven.
“We’ve only lost one game in three years when we’ve run the ball at least 40 times in a game,” Charlton said. “Everyone was involved in the running game. The offensive line [did its job], the backs ran really hard and the tight ends did a great job blocking the perimeter.”
He also said that Robertson made good decisions.
“The University of Maine has to run the football,” he stressed.
UMaine jumped out to a 14-0 lead on Scott’s 1-yard run and Robertson’s 31-yard touchdown toss to Devin Young and never trailed, although the Rams did pull within seven on a couple of occasions including 31-24 on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kasim Hill to Caleb Warren 42 seconds into the fourth quarter.
But UMaine answered with a 14-play, 70-yard drive capped by Robertson’s 13-yard TD pass to tight end Shawn Bowman with 7:01 remaining.
Robertson had extended the drive with a 12-yard pass to Bowman on third-and-10 at the UMaine 30-yard line and an 11-yarder to Young on third-and-7 from the URI 38-yard line.
His TD pass to Bowman came on a third-and-6 situation.
On URI’s next possession, UMaine forced URI to turn the ball over on downs at the URI 20-yard line and Brock scampered 18 yards for the clinching TD two plays later.
URI had dug itself a third-and-30 hole with three 15-yard penalties.
UMaine converted 10 of 16 third downs in the game.
“We’re getting better on third down. That has been a big emphasis,” Charlton said.
UMaine held URI to a 3-for-12 success rate on third down and held the Rams to 303 yards of total offense.
“The biggest thing I liked about the win was how resilient we were in the second half,” Charlton said.
He added that URI has a solid team and he expected the Rams to mound a rally “but after their initial wave, we really responded well. We executed and were able to get some separation.”
Following the game-opening TDs by Scott and Young, URI’s C.J. Carrick kicked a 39-yard field goal to cut the lead to 14-3.
But Robertson hooked up with Andre Miller on a 22-yard TD pass and Cole Baker, filling in for Jonny Messina (COVID-19 protocols), closed out the half with a 24-yard field goal to give UMaine a 24-3 lead at the intermission.
URI took just 19 seconds to cut the lead to 24-10 in the second half when Hill threw a 68-yard TD pass to Paul Woods.
Five minutes later, Hill tossed a 3-yard TD strike to Jaylen Smith to make it a 24-17 game.
But UMaine marched 80 yards on 11 plays and Robertson found tight end Daniel Rymer for a 28-yard touchdown. It was Rymer’s first reception of the season.
URI responded with Hill’s 5-yard pass to Warren but those would be URI’s last points.
Robertson completed 18 of 37 passes for 264 yards and the four touchdowns. Young caught six passes for 90 yards and Miller had four for 90 before being sidelined by a leg injury in the first half. Charlton didn’t believe the injury was serious and thought it was a hamstring issue.
Ray Miller’s game-high 11 tackles including 2 ½ sacks paced the defense and Khairi Manns had six tackles.
Hill completed 11 of 20 passes for 177 yards and three TDs for URI. Warren caught five passes for 51 yards and Woods had four for 102. Smith had four for 16.
Smith carried the ball 11 times for 46 yards but leading rusher Justice Antrum suffered an injury early in the game and only had two carries for 15 yards.
UMaine held URI to 68 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Evan Stewart and Oneil Robinson had eight tackles each for URI and Antonio Carter II had seven.
UMaine will host Stony Brook on Saturday at noon for the last home game.