Early Outburst Downs Rams in 51-21 Loss at Harvard

Early Outburst Downs Rams in 51-21 Loss at Harvard

How it Happened
Rhode Island (0-3) fell behind by three touchdowns before the end of the first quarter and never recovered in a 51-21 loss at No. 22 Harvard Friday night.

Harvard quarterback Joe Viviano passed for three touchdowns and rushed for a third to lead a Crimson offense that led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Rams went three-and-out on their first two possessions before losing a fumble on their third drive. The Crimson (1-0) capitalized, driving for touchdowns on each of their first three possessions.

Harvard took its opening possession 61 yards in six plays for a quick 7-0 lead at 11:05 of the first quarter. Anthony Firkser caught a 16-yard pass from Viviano to cap the drive, which took just 2:08 to complete.  

On its next drive, Harvard converted a fourth-and-6 at the Rhody 32, as Viviano connected with Firkser for a 29-yard pass. One play later, Semar Smith ran it in from 8 yards out to help the Crimson move to a 14-0 advantage at 5:56 of the first quarter.

Rhode Island fumbled at its own 22-yard line on its third drive. On third down, Viviano appeared to be hemmed up in the backfield, but he broke free and scrambled for the 8-yard touchdown run to push the lead to three touchdowns.

The Rams got on the board on the final play of the opening half. Following a 33-yard kick return by Khayri Denny, quarterback Paul Mroz came in to lead a 12-play, 55-yard scoring drive. As time expired, Mroz scored from 1 yard out on a second-effort run to help Rhody cut the deficit to 24-7.

Thoughts of a comeback were dashed quickly when Harvard scored a touchdown on the first drive of the second half to push the lead back to 23 points.

Inside the Box Score

  • Senior quarterback Paul Mroz came on in the second quarter and was 7-for-17 for 96 yards and one touchdown. He also scored a second touchdown on a 1-yard plunge.
  • Sophomore wide receiver Khayri Denny had his first career 100-yard receiving game, catching five passes for 103 yards. He caught Jordan Vazzano's first career completion for a 49-yard gain. 
  • Denny had 234 all-purpose yards. In addition to his receiving yardage, he returned six kicks for 131 yards, averaging 21.8 yards per return. 
  • Junior wide receiver Harold Buckner III caught his first touchdown pass as a Ram, hauling in a 22-yard strike from Mroz in the fourth quarter.
  • Junior cornerback Abdul Ibrahim had five tackles and blocked an extra point on special teams.
  • Senior Adam Parker and sophomore Nas Jones each had nine tackles to lead the Rams.
  • Sophomore cornerback Ahkema Evans had seven tackles and a forced fumble.
  • Junior defensive end Derrick Holmes had five tackles, including one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
  • Senior QuVaughn Jones, junior Brian Collins and redshirt freshmen Calvin Milliner and Jordan Vazzano all made their Rhode Island debuts. 
  • Vazzano was 2-for-6 for 67 yards in his first action under center.
  • Harvard converted 14-of-20 (70 percent) of its third-down attempts and 2-of-4 on fourth down.
  • Junior Anthony St. Laurent was the team's anchor bearer, and senior Paul Mroz served as the game captain.
  • Attendance for the game was 12,167.

Stat of the Game
6.6 – Harvard averaged 6.6 yards per play on 86 offensive snaps.

What's Next

Rhode Island heads home for back-to-back games. The Rams host New Hampshire Saturday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. and then Brown on Saturday, Oct. 1 at noon.