Rams Battle Hokies Tough, Fall 34-17

Photo Credit: Anthony Garro
Photo Credit: Anthony Garro

How It Happened
Rhode Island (1-5) went toe-to-toe with Virginia Tech, but the Hokies were able to keep URI at bay in a 34-17 contest Saturday evening.

Virginia Tech (4-2) took its opening possession 81 yards in 13 plays. However, Rhode Island made three stops inside the 5-yard line, forcing the Hokies to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Brian Johnson to take the early 3-0 lead.

The Hokies padded the lead on their second possession. A nine-play, 86-yard drive culminated in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Henden Hooker to Damon Hazleton, helping make the score 10-0 just before the end of the first quarter.

After netting 13 yards in the first quarter, Rhode Island got an explosion play early in the second when Isaiah Coulter caught a 51-yard pass from Vito Priore. The play helped set up a 41-yard field goal by C.J. Carrick to pull Rhody within 10-3 with 12:15 left in the half.

Virginia Tech came right back on its next drive. Hooker connected with Hazleton for a second score, this time on a 37-yard touchdown pass. Hazlton went down the right sideline for 37 yards, making the score 17-3 with 9:46 left in the half. Rhody trimmed the lead to 17-6 with a 36-yard field goal from Carrick before the break.

Rhode Island took the momentum on the opening drive of the third quarter. Priore led an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Ahmere Dorsey. A 2-point conversion pass from Priore to Aaron Parker made the score 17-14 just 2:34 into the second half.

The Hokies responded with a 93-yard touchdown drive. Hooker hit Dalton Keene for a 3-yard score as the lead was pushed to 24-14. Rhody came back with a drive of its own, moving the ball 60 yards to set up Carrick for his second 41-yard make of the day and pulling within 24-17 late in the third.

A 1-yard touchdown run by DeShawn McClease 29 seconds into the fourth quarter made it a two-score game, as Virginia Tech went up 31-17. A late field goal for the Hokies capped the scoring.

Inside the Box Score

  • Junior wide receiver Isaiah Coulter finished with nine catches for 152 yards. His 51-yard reception in the second quarter was Rhode Island's longest play from scrimmage this season.
  • Coulter has gone over 100 yards in three of his last four games. Over the last four contests, he has 527 yards on 36 catches. He was knocked out of the game on a hit to the head that resulted in targeting call against Virginia Tech's Reggie Floyd with 10:17 left in the game.
  • Senior wide receiver Aaron Parker caught five passes for 64 yards despite facing heavy coverage throughout. He also had a 2-point conversion catch.
  • Senior wide receiver Ahmere Dorsey had four catches for 34 yards, including his second touchdown reception of the year.
  • Redshirt junior Vito Priore threw for 286 yards and one touchdown. He surpassed 2,003 passing yards at the midpoint of the season, and he now has 13 touchdown passes with just three interceptions. 
  • Prriore is the first Ram to throw for 2,000 yards in a season since Derrick Cassidy had 2,759 in 2008.
  • Redshirt freshman Ed Lee had his first career catch, a 14-yard grab. It came on third-and-3 in the third quarter.
  • Senior running back Zoe Bryant, Jr. averaged 5.4 yards per carry, running for 54 yards. He also caught five passes for 19 yards.
  • Senior linebacker Branyan Javier-Castillo led the defense with 11 tackles, his fourth game with at least 10 stops.
  • Senior defensive end Keith Wells had an active game, getting credit for six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks and a quarterback hurry.
  • Redshirt freshman linebacker Andre Johnson recorded a sack.
  • Junior C.J. Carrick made three field goals, giving him 25 for his career and tying him with Chris Cassara for fifth place in program history. Carrick hit twice from 41 and once from 36 yards.
  • He is now 4-for-4 on attempts of 40 yards or more this season.
  • Virginia Tech kicker John Parker Romo had touchbacks on six of his seven kickoffs.
  • The Hokies were 6-of-10 on third downs, compared to 5-of-15 for Rhode Island.
  • Freshman Teddy Harper made his collegiate debut, appearing on special teams.
  • Senior defensive tackle Jim Philistin served as the game captain, while senior linebacker Branyan Javier-Castillo was the anchor bearer.
  • The attendance for the game was 51,716, making it the largest crowd ever to watch a Rhode Island football game. The previous mark was 40,100, also at Virginia Tech. That game was played on Oct. 11, 1980.

What's Next
Rhode Island wraps up its three-game road swing when it gets back to CAA Football action at Albany Saturday, Oct. 19. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.