‘Cats squeak by Rams to stay perfect

James Evans

The ‘Cats survived their biggest scare of the season two weeks ago at Rhode Island when they squeaked by the Rams, 21-17, in the last minute of the game.

Thanks to a one-yard plunge by quarterback Joe Casamento with 20 seconds left, the ‘Cats were able to rally past Rhode Island and stay undefeated with a 6-0 record, 4-0 in the division. The Rams dropped to 3-3 on the season and 2-2 deep into the Atlantic 10.

The ‘Cats were on verge of losing their first game of the season. Down 17-14, the ‘Cats were faced with a fourth down and 17 at their own 43. Casamento, however, was able to buy some time and found Butler for a 23-yard gain that gave the ‘Cats a fresh set of downs at the Rams’ 34. Casamento then came through again, as he hit John Dieser, who brought it within two yards of the end zone. After a couple of failed attempts Casamento took the ball and sneaked in for the lead and the win.

The ‘Cats jumped out to the quick lead, as they took the opening kick-off, drove the field and eventually scored when Casamento found Phil DiGiacomo with a six-yard touchdown pass and Adam James added the extra point to give ‘Nova the 7-0 lead. The drive took 3:20 and the ‘Cats went 65 yards on nine plays. The first quarter ended with both teams trading possessions back and forth and the Wildcats protecting their 7-0 lead.

The second quarter began with Rhode Island forcing ‘Nova to punt on its first drive. Rhode Island had the ball at its own 38 and took little time off the clock. The Rams went 62 yards in just over a minute and scored on a 38-yard pass from Jayson Davis to Wendell Williams to tie the game. The Rams took the second half kickoff and marched down the field before the ‘Cats halted the drive at the 21 and the Rams settled for a 38-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead. After the team traded possessions, the ‘Cats took advantage of good field position at the Rams’ 46 and drove down the field. ‘Nova had a first down inside the Rams’ 10, when Martin “Mo” Gibson ran the ball in for a 3-yard touchdown and the ‘Cats went to the fourth with a shaky 14-10 lead.

The fourth quarter started off with the teams once again swapping possessions. The ‘Cats were able to pin the Rams deep at its own 3-yard line, but on a second down and 8, Williams once again hurt the ‘Cats as he broke a 95-yard touchdown run. After a failed drive by the ‘Cats and then a failed drive by the Rams, the ‘Cats received the ball at its own 26 with just under three minutes left.

The ‘Cats return home this week to take on No. 5 ranked Massachusetts. Both teams are undefeated in the division and a loss now would hurt both teams chances at winning the conference crown.