ORONO — The University of Maine football team couldn’t sustain the momentum of a strong start Friday night, falling to Rhode Island 34-17 in its home opener in front of 4,813 fans at Alfond Stadium.

Maine dropped to 0-3 overall, 0-1 in Coastal Athletic Association play, while Rhode Island is now 2-1 overall, 2-0 in conference games. It was the Rams’ first win at Maine since 1998. It was also URI’s second straight win over Maine after the Black Bears defeated the Rams 14 straight times.

Originally scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. Saturday kickoff, the game was moved to Friday night in anticipation of Hurricane Lee’s impact on the state over the weekend.

The Rams piled up yards with a balanced offense, gaining 206 yards on the ground and 234 through the air. The Rams rushed for 132 yards in the second half as they began to dominate the line of scrimmage and time of possession. Quarterback Kasim Hill completed 18 of 32 passes for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kahtero Summers had six catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns, while Ja’Den McKenzie ran for 117 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

The Maine defense struggled to get off the field throughout the game, allowing the Rams to convert 13 of 18 third-down tries. Conversely, Maine was just 3 of 11 on third down. Maine linebacker Darius McKenzie, who led the Black Bears with 11 tackles, said the Rams executed their power plays well and were more physical than Maine.

“I think the O-line played a great game tonight … Everybody was just locked into what they had to do,” Hill said. “We feel like there’s a couple we left out there that we should’ve got.”


The game started in promising fashion for the Black Bears, who took the opening kickoff and went 75 yards in 12 plays, scoring on Tristen Kenan’s 2-yard touchdown run for an early 7-0 lead.

“There was no panic on our sideline. We just went about our business,” URI Coach Jim Fleming said.

After gaining 214 yards in the first half, the Black Bears stalled in the second, gaining just 57 yards.

“We’ve just got to be better. It’s that simple,” said Maine quarterback Derek Robertson. “We’ve got to execute better. It starts during practice. We’ve got to have better practices.”

The Rams took control of the game in the second quarter thanks to a trio of long touchdown plays. First, Summers caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Hill to take a 10-7 lead with 12:20 left in the first half. With 7:26 left in the half, Summers and Hill connected again, this time for a 37-yard touchdown and a 17-14 lead. McKenzie’s 17-yard touchdown run with 2:27 to play in the half gave the Rams a 24-14 lead.

The Rams’ big second quarter began with superb special teams that gave them a short field for a pair of short touchdown drives. Gabe Sloat’s 41-yard punt return set URI up at the Maine 35. Two plays later, URI had its first touchdown. An unsportsmanlike penalty by Maine when Kenan scored his second touchdown, this time on a 15-yard run, combined with Randy Jordan’s 36-yard kick return set up URI at the Maine 42. Three plays later, Hill and Summers had their second touchdown pass.

“What really set us back was our second quarter. Really poor field position throughout the second quarter, and we really never got back from that,” Maine Coach Jordan Stevens said.

Maine’s best scoring chance in the second half was nullified by Fredrick Mallay’s interception of Robertson (21 of 31, 187 yards) on a pass intended for Montigo Moss in the end zone with 5:22 left in the game.

Kenan led Maine with 82 yards rushing on 18 carries. Joe Gillette had six catches for 42 yards for the Black Bears. Jordan Colbert and Brent Jackson each had nine tackles to lead the Rams’ defense.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.