University of Maine safety Shakur Smalls in a recent football game for the Black Bears. Credit: Courtesy of UMaine Athletics

The University of Maine’s football team didn’t get off to the start it wanted to in Saturday’s game against Football Bowl Subdivision team UMass at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst, Mass.

But the finish was much better.

The Football Championship Subdivision Black Bears spotted the Minutemen a 10-0 lead but scored the game’s final 35 points for their fourth career win over an FBS school, 35-10.

UMaine improved to 5-5 on the season while UMass fell to 1-9 and dropped its second straight game to an FCS school after losing to Rhode Island 35-22 the previous weekend.

The Black Bear defense held UMass to 297 total yards and just five first downs in the second half including two in the fourth quarter.

“Any time you can hold an FBS team to 10 points, that’s a great job,” said UMaine head coach Nick Charlton. “Our defense played very well. They were swarming to the football and they played hard.”

Graduate student linebacker Ray Miller, a transfer from Campbell University in North Carolina, had a season-high and game-high 16 tackles to lead the defensive effort.

Junior quarterback Joe Fagnano, playing in his first game since suffering a high ankle sprain in a 55-7 loss at James Madison on Sept. 11, completed 16 of 27 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

Redshirt junior running back Elijah Barnwell ran for a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and finished with 16 carries for 84 yards. Sophomore Freddie Brock also ran for a TD and gained 74 yards on 13 carries.

Senior wide receiver Devin Young grabbed a career-high eight passes for 78 yards and caught a TD pass. He also helped set up a 14-yard TD pass from Fagnano to junior tight end Shawn Bowman by returning the second half kickoff 46 yards.

UMass opened the scoring by marching 75 yards on six plays following the opening kickoff. Two Ellis Merriweather runs totaling 54 yards set up Brady Olson’s eight-yard TD pass to Josiah Johnson.

Cameron Carson’s 42-yard field goal with 5:13 left in the first period expanded the lead to 10-0.

UMaine’s offense got untracked in the second quarter with Fagnano tossing a 19-yard pass to Young on third-and-eight at its own 16.

Two plays later, Fagnano threw a 58-yard pass to Montigo Moss and Brock capped the 7-play, 86-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown run.

“That explosive [pass from Fagnano to Moss] got us rolling,” Charlton said.

UMaine took the lead for good with 3:21 left in the half following a 17-yard UMass punt.

Fagnano found Young for an eight-yard TD pass.

The TD pass from Fagnano to Bowman after Young’s kickoff return made it 21-10 just 2:55 into the third quarter. Fagnano had extended the drive with a seven-yard pass to Bowman on third-and-six.

UMass strung together a 10-play, 73-yard drive to end the third period but the UMaine defense held the Minutemen to a field goal attempt and Carson missed the 36-yarder.

UMaine then drove 79 yards on 11 plays before Barnwell’s two-yard TD run sewed up the victory.

Barnwell concluded the scoring with a 23-yard dash two plays after Khairi Manns sacked Olson for an eight-yard loss on fourth-and-seven at the UMass-37 yard line.

UMaine, which racked up 366 total yards, was again without All-Colonial Athletic Association wide receiver Andre Miller due to a hamstring injury.

Linebackers Xavier Nurse and Adrian Otero each had six tackles for UMaine and Nurse had a sack. Safety Shakur Smalls also had six tackles.

Olson completed 14-of-30 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown and Merriweather rushed for 177 yards on 27 carries and caught three passes for 24 yards. Johnson had three catches for 13 yards.

Nahji Logan’s nine tackles and Jordan Mahoney’s seven paced the defense for UMass, which was playing its first game under interim head coach Alex Miller after head coach Walt Bell was fired last Sunday.

UMaine, which is 3-4 in CAA play, will finish its season against arch-rival New Hampshire on Saturday at 1 in Durham, N.H. UNH is 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the CAA and has lost seven in a row including Saturday’s 28-3 loss to Rhode Island.

They will be playing for the Brice-Cowell Musket.