Big plays have killed the University of Maine football team all season long and that was the case again on Saturday.
The University of Rhode Island used three big plays on a seven-play, 75-yard drive to score the game-winning touchdown on Marques DeShields’ 1-yard run with 7:17 remaining as the Rams won 26-22 and snapped UMaine’s 14-game winning streak over them in Kingston, Rhode Island.
Trailing 22-20, Kasim Hill completed a 22-yard pass to Ed Lee and DeShields rattled off runs of 18 and 27 yards down to UMaine’s 1-yard line before he capped the drive with his 1-yard run.
After receiving the ensuing kickoff, two 5-yard penalties hurt the Black Bears and they had to punt after they couldn’t pick up a first down.
And the Black Bears never touched the ball again.
The Rams strung together a game-ending drive that included a 4-yard DeShields run on fourth-and-one at the UM-46 and he added a 7-yarder later in a third-and-five situation.
URI improved to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
UMaine fell to 2-7 and 2-4 after absorbing its third straight loss.
Cody Williams opened the scoring for UMaine with a 29-yard field goal and Elijah Barnwell polished off a 15-play, 91-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run to make it 10-0.
Lee caught a 63-yard TD pass from Hill to make it 10-7 and, after a 46-yard field goal by Williams, Hill gave URI its first lead with a 7-yard run.
UMaine regained the lead with 2:20 left in the third quarter on an 18-yard pass from Joe Fagnano to Rohan Jones. The two-point conversion failed so it was 19-14.
But just 1:14 later, Hill scored on a 9-yard run after he tossed a 47-yard pass to Lee and a facemask penalty was tacked on.
Williams gave UMaine its final lead of the game with a 39-yard field goal with 9:33 left in the game.
Hill completed 13 of 25 passes for 244 yards and Lee caught eight for 190 yards. DeShields rushed for 110 yards on 23 carries and the Rhody defense was led by Jake Fire and Evan Stewart, who combined for 25 tackles.
Fagnano completed 12 of 27 passes for just 126 yards, including four to Kobay White for 37 yards and four to Zavier Scott for 33 yards. Barnwell carried the ball 20 times for 98 yards.
Brian Lee Jr. had seven tackles to pace the defense. Adrian Otero, Robby Riobe, Xavier Mitchell and Kahzir Brown had five apiece.
UMaine will travel to Albany for a noon game next Saturday. Rhode Island will visit New Hampshire for a 1 p.m. contest.