In the first half of the University of Maine football team’s home-opening 21-18 loss to Colgate, the Black Bears managed just 97 total yards on 31 plays.
That came in the wake of the previous weekend’s 41-0 loss to Football Bowl Subdivision team New Mexico, in which the Black Bears produced only 118 yards on 47 plays over the entire game.
But the Black Bears climbed back into the Colgate game after trailing 14-0 by racking up 265 yards on 46 plays in the second half. A late 47-yard field goal attempt by Cole Baker, which would have forced overtime, fell short.
First-year UMaine football coach Jordan Stevens said his offense’s showing in the second half against Colgate has given him a lot of encouragement as the Black Bears prepare to take on FBS team Boston College at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. But slow starts and penalties continued to plague UMaine, and if those problems persist it will be difficult for UMaine to dent the win column.
“The offense started to come together in the second half. It was great to see,” Stevens said.
“We have a lot of pieces to build on but we have to do that quickly with Boston College coming up this week,” he said.
Senior quarterback Joe Fagnano, just 4-for-8 for 34 yards in the first half, was 21-for-31 for 212 yards over the final 30 minutes.
Tight end Shawn Bowman finished with five receptions for 73 yards.
Stevens thought running backs Elijah Barnwell (66 yards, 17 carries; 5 catches 31 yards) and Freddie Brock (35 on 9, 4 catches, 6 yards) and wide receiver Montigo Moss (4 catches, 36 yards, 1 touchdown) played well.
He also lauded the efforts turned in by senior center-guard Jack Webb and junior tackle Max Lovblad on the offensive line. They played in place of the injured Tyrie Francois and Tyler Royal. Francois is the left tackle and Royal is the left guard.
“Based off the success we had in the second half, the strong points we saw offensively, we have something to build on for next week in moving forward,” he added.
UMaine had seven penalties for 35 yards, including four false-start penalties.
That gives the Black Bears six false-start penalties through the first two games. UMaine was penalized nine times for 75 yards at New Mexico.
Only 37 of the 115 teams in the Football Championship Subdivision have been penalized more on a penalties-per-game average (8 per game) than the Black Bears.
“We have to continue to work on that and emphasize it,” Stevens said regarding the penalties. “We have to play a disciplined game and give ourselves a chance to have the outcome we want.”
Stevens was pleased with his team’s defensive performance.
The Black Bears’ defense limited Colgate to just 253 total yards compared with UMaine’s 362 and only 10 first downs compared with UMaine’s 21. UMaine also held Colgate to a 4-for-14 conversion rate in third down situations compared with the New Mexico game, when the Lobos were 9-for-12.
“They played well throughout the game with the exception of a few big plays in the second half,” Stevens said. “They were able to get off the field [after stopping Colgate on third down 10 times]. They were more physical and that’s a big emphasis for us. We want to be known as being a physical, aggressive team.”
Stevens said he is hoping Francois and Royal can return to the lineup against BC and that BC transfer Kobay White, a wide receiver, could also be back. White missed the Colgate game due to injury.
The Black Bears will be heavy underdogs against a BC team that will also be looking for its first win after losing to Rutgers 22-21 and Virginia Tech 27-10.
“They will present a number of challenges on both sides of the ball,” Stevens said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. But I’m excited for the challenge.”