|| Massachusetts Game Notes
UMass Opens CAA Play vs. Rival Rhode Island
One of the great New England rivalries is renewed for the 86th time as Rhode Island visits McGuirk Stadium today. This conference opener is the most recent in a series that dates all the way back to 1903.
UMass enters the week coming off a 24-16 win at Holy Cross two weeks ago before having an early bye week last Saturday. Rhode Island visited Syracuse in the Carrier Dome last weekend dropping a tightly played 21-14 contest in the Rams' season-opener.
Following tonight's game will be a several post-game activities including the Marching Band's 5th Quarter performance. A very special fireworks display presented by Atlas Pyrovision Productions will kickoff the home schedule with a "bang", while the UMass women's rowing team will also dedicate a boat in honor of Amanda Kraus, Class of 1995, in honor of her efforts in starting Row New York. That organization helps youth of under-resourced communities in New York City by enabling them to learn the joys of the sport.
Additionally, several alumni activities are going on throughout the day as the UMass Cross Country team will have its annual Alumni Weekend on campus and the Class of 1964 Football Team will be in attendance at today's game. Of that Class of 1964 group is Phil Vandersea, a native of Whitinsville, Mass., who played professionally for the Green Bay Packers in 1965, '66, '68 and '69. He played under the legendary coach Vince Lombardi.
Statewide Radio Coverage
Josh Maurer in his fourth season as "Voice of the Minutemen." He will be joined by color analyst and former Minuteman Matt Goldstein. John Hennessy will host pregame, halftime and postgame shows.
The game will be carried statewide on flagship 100.9 FM WRNX and 91.1 FM WMUA in Western Mass., WCRN 830 AM in Worcester, WWZN 1510 AM in Boston and 95.9 FM WATD on the South Shore. The game can also be listened to online at UMassAthletics.com. WCRN and WWZN will both join the game in progress following the Boston Red Sox game which starts at 4 PM.
UMass vs. Rhode Island: The Series
UMass holds a 47-36-2 lead in the all-time series which began in 1903. The teams have played every season since 1946 after the series was interrupted by World War II.
The Minutemen have won 19 of the last 25 meetings between the two schools, including 11 of the last 14 games. The Rams have won three of the last four at Meade Stadium, while UMass has won 10 straight meetings at McGuirk Stadium. The last time UMass lost to Rhode Island at home was in 1991.
UMass, ranked 19th, fell at Rhode Island last season 37-34 as Brandon Johnson-Farrell caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Steve Probst with 1:10 left in regulation. A two-point conversion gave the Rams the three point win after a turnover on the next UMass possession. Jonathan Hernandez score two touchdowns running for 124 yards, while Kyle Havens was 25-of-42 throwing for 373 yards. Julian Talley hauled in a career-high nine catches for 109 yards.
In the previous meeting at McGuirk, on Sept. 19, 2009, the Minutemen continued to dominate Rhode Island, beating the Rams for the 10th time in a row at home, winning 30-10 on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon.
The teams played at Rhode Island in 2007 and 2008. The Minutemen pounded the Rams, 49-0 in 2008 after suffering a 12-6 loss in 2007. The win in 2008 ended a two-game win streak for the Rams at Meade Stadium. They also won 27-24 in 2004.
The series with Rhode Island is the most played one in UMass history as the teams have met 85 times. Next on the list is UConn, as the Minutemen and Huskies played 71 times from 1897-1999.
UMass' 47 wins are the most against any team as well. The second most wins are against, New Hampshire, as UMass is 43-27-3 against the Wildcats.
At McGuirk Stadium, UMass is 17-6 vs. the Rams. Overall in Amherst, the Minutemen (and Redmen) are 25-18-2 in the series. UMass has won 10 straight games vs. Rhode Island at McGuirk, last falling in 1991, 17-14.
UMass and Rhode Island Connections
Rhode Island athletic director Thorr Bjorn took over the Rams staff in the summer of 2007 after working at UMass for 13 years in a variety of roles. Most recently, he was the Senior Associate Athletic Director at UMass. Bjorn was a star football player for the Minutemen from 1987-89.
Gary Correia is the lone player on the UMass roster from Rhode Island after he joined the football team this past summer following his four-year career on the basketball team.
The last Minuteman from Rhode Island was all-time passing leader Liam Coen, a native of Newport, R.I. He graduated in 2008 after setting every career passing record in UMass history. He was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the Ocean State's history passing for 5,335 yards and 66 touchdowns in his prep career playing for his father Tim at LaSalle Academy. Coen is currently the quarterbacks coach at Rhode Island.
Rhode Island has five players on its roster from the Bay State including tight end Alex Fraizer who is from Westfield.