AMHERST, Mass. -- Kirk Nelms' 80-yard interception return for a touchdown highlighted a 20-0 fourth-quarter run as Massachusetts rallied for a 36-27 victory over Rhode Island on Saturday night.
In the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams, UMass (2-0) trailed 21-16 after three quarters. Quarterback Kellen Pagel scored on an 8-yard run to give the Minutemen the lead for good and Nelms electrified the home crowd with his 80-yard return of a Steve Probst pass. Probst threw for 279 yards and four touchdowns, but the second of his two interceptions cost the Rams (0-2) dearly.
With 1:58 left, Julian Talley caught a 22-yard pass from Pagel for UMass' last touchdown. Pagel finished 21 of 32 for 259 yards and an interception. Following a Rhode Island touchdown with 32 seconds left, UMass recovered an onside kick. Jonathan Hernandez had his second 100-yard game, carrying 32 times for 188 yards and two touchdowns for Massachusetts.