ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine football team’s introduction to the elite of the Colonial Athletic Association was only beginning Saturday at then-No. 2 Richmond, which earned a 44-17 victory.
The Spiders are No. 1 in this week’s poll conducted by The Sports Network. Now, the Black Bears (2-2, 0-1 CAA) must regroup and get ready for Saturday’s home showdown against always-tough James Madison, which comes into the contest ranked No. 2 in the nation. The Dukes (3-1, 1-0 CAA) knocked off previously unbeaten and two-time defending national champion Appalachian State 35-32 Saturday in Harrisonburg, Va.
UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove and his players are well aware of the magnitude of the challenge in taking on JMU on the heels of Richmond.
“We certainly know, obviously with last weekend and now this weekend, the blessings of having the opportunities that you have,” Cosgrove said during the weekly CAA teleconference.
“We’re a program that’s trying to get to where these programs are and have been looking for opportunities like this that provide you a stage, pro-vide you an environment, to get a great win for your program that can catapult some things,” he said.
Saturday’s game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Alfond Stadium. Looking ahead to next week, UMaine will travel to Delaware to take on the Blue Hens, who are the No. 17 team in the country this week. There are six CAA teams among the top 19 ranked by TSN.
Farkes finding the touch
Bears sophomore quarterback Adam Farkes continues to demonstrate improvement as the season progresses. Farkes completed 20 of 34 passes for a career-high 229 yards with two touchdowns at Richmond and was intercepted once. He has now thrown for a combined nine touchdowns with only one “pick” during the last three games.
In four games, Farkes has completed 58 of 105 passes (.552) for 667 yards and is closing in on his yardage total encompassing more than seven games all of last season. He explained that opponents’ emphasis on shutting down the run game, paced by tailback Jhamal Fluellen, and the development of the receivers have been keys to his improvement.
“He’s [Fluellen] the No. 1 guy teams want to stop,” Farkes said. “That’s where the other guys need to keep stepping up, the receivers. We’ve got to exe-cute and figure out how to do it consistently.”
UM offense minus key weapon
The UMaine offense was operating a bit shorthanded against Richmond as junior wide receiver Landis Williams was unable to play. Williams sat out with a left foot/ankle injury suffered a week earlier in the first half against Monmouth. Without him, the Bears lacked one of their few outside speed threats against a formidable Spiders defense.
He has made 10 receptions for 83 yards and two touch-downs in less than 10 quarters of action. Williams did not participate in Wednesday’s practice on Morse Field. On the positive side, sophomore Tyrell Jones caught another touchdown pass against Richmond, giving him three in the last two games. He had five catches for 68 yards on Saturday.
Harvey hits the mark
UMaine place-kicker Brian Harvey finally broke back into the scoring column on the field-goal ledger again during Saturday’s contest. The freshman, who began his career with a 40-yarder in front of 70,000-plus fans at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, had missed his next four tries going into the Richmond contest. One of those was blocked.
Harvey’s 39-yarder from inside the left hash mark in the first quarter at Richmond seems to have alleviated some of the frustration and tension that had surrounded the kicking game during the previous two weeks.