PROVIDENCE — It was a joyous bus ride back to Kingston for the URI football team on Saturday after the Rams posted a 45-24 victory over Brown in the 105th edition of the Governor’s Cup.
The victory was both the third of the year for the Rams (3-0) and third in a row against their in-state rivals dating to 2018 after COVID-19 canceled last season’s showdown with the Bears.
“The Governor’s Cup can’t go unrecognized. This is a huge, huge win for us,” URI coach Jim Fleming said after Gov. Dan McKee presented the Rams with the trophy at midfield as the remaining crowd made their way towards the exits.
The game was close at the half, with the visitors leading just 17-14 after the Bears got on the board first and benefited from a 50-yard field goal attempt by CJ Carrick that hit the cross bar before bouncing back into the end zone.
URI looked like a different team over the span of the final two quarters, outscoring Brown, 28-10.
“I’m really proud of our guys for the way they came out in the second half and played lights-out football,” said Fleming, his team unbeaten through their first three contests of the regular season for the first time since 2005.
The turning point on Saturday came in the opening seconds of the third quarter when Antonio Carter came up with a fumble recovery following a Henry Yianakoplis strip sack of Bears’ quarterback EJ Perry, who had a pair of touchdowns as well as interceptions in the loss.
A 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kasim Hill to Caleb Perry moments later made it 24-14 with the Rams only growing stronger from that moment onward.
“Turnovers are huge, especially in the middle of the field,” Yianakoplis said, his team using the turnover as a jumping off point for a quarter in which they blanked the Bears, 21-0.
“We just kept going after the quarterback, keeping pressure on him,” Yianakopolis said.
Hill went 13 for 19 throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the winning effort.
“This is my first game in the rivalry. With a lot of people in the stands, it means a lot to me,” he said.
Justice Antem, who caught a 35-yard pass from Hill in the first half, scored on a 1-yard play in the third to put URI up, 31-14, giving them their largest lead of the game at the time.
Following Brown’s second turnover of the quarter, the Rams opened up a 24-point advantage with less than a minute remaining as Matt Pires caught a pass from Hill before breaking free for an 80-yard touchdown to put the visitors up, 38-14.
Brown's Christopher Maron made it a three-score game on a 16-yard field goal in the fourth, but any hopes for a comeback by the home team were thwarted once Rhody defensive back Jordan Jones intercepted Perry in the end zone, bringing the ball back 106 yards the other way for a score, effectively ending the contest.
The Bears (0-1) were playing their first game since 2019 as they opened a new era at Brown Stadium, which now features artificial field turf. They will look to turn their luck around this Friday when they head to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to take on Harvard. The Rams, now with victories over Bryant, Albany and Brown under their belts, enter their bye-week before they host Stony Brook on Oct. 2.