UMaine seeking offensive balance

Posted Sept. 12, 2008, at 9:53 p.m.

Cooler conditions are beginning to infiltrate the state and three Maine teams will celebrate the season by playing their home football openers on Saturday afternoon.

The University of Maine will honor a historic team and a devoted benefactor while celebrating the rededication of Morse Field at Alfond Stadium while Husson University of Bangor and Maine Maritime Academy of Castine will try to bounce back from season-opening losses.

Stony Brook Seawolves (1-1) at Maine Black Bears (1-1), 6 p.m., Alfond Stadium, Orono: UMaine hopes to feed off the presence of the 1965 Tangerine Bowl squad and FieldTurf donor Phillip Morse as it takes on a formidable Stony Brook team.

Fresh off a come-from-behind win at Monmouth, the Bears are looking for more efficiency, especially on offense and special teams.

“We’re certainly making progress. I don’[t know that we’re near being the finished product that we need to be,” said coach Jack Cosgrove.

UMaine encounters an SBU squad that is building around transfers. The Seawolves, who are now a member of the Big South Conference, feature nine transfers from Bowl Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) programs, seven from Football Championship Subdivision (I-AA) teams and numerous other players who began their careers elsewhere.

SBU has at least five people with Maine ties, including starting quarterback Dayne Hoffman and tailback Edwin Gowins, both of whom prepped at Bridgton Academy. UMaine transfers Julian Glenn (starting linebacker) and Markell Watson (backup offensive line) and former assistant coach Ky Cowan (cornerbacks coach) are all part of the program.

The Seawolves won last year’s meeting on Long Island, 30-23 in double overtime.

“There should be a high level of respect on both sides for each other,” Cosgrove said. “They certainly have impressed us with their level of play in their first two games with Colgate (42-26 victory) and [then-No. 17] Elon (30-20 loss).”

The Bears hope to present a more consistent and balanced offensive attack, led by tailback Jhamal Fluellen (47 carries, 206 yards), quarterback Adam Farkes (26-for-49 passing, 290 yds., 3 touchdowns) and wide receiver Landis Williams (7 receptions, 73 yds., 1 TD).

The Seawolves have allowed 28 points and 311 yards per game, including only 100.5 via the run. Tyler Santucci heads the unit, having made 20 tackles, along with fellow linebackers Carl Teague (11 tackles) and Greg Weeks (10 tackles, sack).

UMaine’s defense must be more stout against the run after allowing 213.5 ypg thus far. The unit is spearheaded by end Jovan Belcher (19 tackles), safeties Lamir Whetstone (13 tackles) and Brandon McLaughlin (11 tackles), and linebacker Mark Masterson (11 tackles).

Stony Brook’s multifaceted offense is paced by Gowins (269 yds., 3 TDs) and Conte Cuttino (153 yds, 1 TD) in the run game and QB Hoffman (19-for-49, 331 yds., 3 TDs, 2 interceptions) and wideout Lynell Suggs (6 rec., 102 yds., 2 TDs) through the air.

“They want to run it, play-action pass you, hit you for the big one,” Cosgrove said. “They’re a more experienced offense than they were a year ago.”

Bear tracks: UMaine will stick with freshman place-kicker Brian Harvey, who missed two relatively short field goals last week. “I like to think positively, that those are going to be his two bad kicks of the year,” Cosgrove said. Harvey is 3-for-3 on PATs.

Utica Pioneers (0-1) at Husson Eagles (0-1), 1 p.m., Winkin Complex, Bangor: The Eagles are looking to demonstrate improvement after a tough, season-opening road loss at Division II Merrimack. The contest is one of only three home games this season for coach Gabby Price’s team.

Husson eyes a solid effort on defense after surrendering 565 yards last week. Freshman safety Kyle Vanidestine of Bangor led Husson with 7.5 tackles, while cornerback Darius Charl-ton posted seven hits an LB Earl Wilson had five and an interception.

The Eagles also want more offensive punch behind rookie QB James McCandless (10-for-21, 75 yds.), tailbacks Justin Lindie of Winslow (84 yds., 1 TD) and Julius Williams, and wideout Roderic Johnson (5 rec. 42 yds.).

Utica, a member of the Empire 8 Conference, opened with a 26-13 loss at Becker.

Becker Hawks (1-0) at Maine Maritime Academy Mariners (0-1), 1 p.m., Ritchie Field, Castine: The Mariners will try to shake off the disappointment of a last-minute loss to MIT.

Coach Chris McKenney’s MMA contingent rolled up 470 yards of offense, including 297 on the ground, but also had trouble stopping the Engineers.

The Mariners’ option attack is led by fullback Jim Bower (23 att., 100 yds., 2 TDs) and QB Tyler Angell (14 att., 95 yds.; 6-for-14 pasing, 173 yds., 3 TDs, 2 INTs.). Defensively, linebacker Travis Fergola debuted with 22 tackles in the opener, while LB Wade Mondoux posted 13 and safety Conor Callahan 13.

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