A handful of Maine’s college football teams will look to keep their postseason hopes alive during weekend action around the Northeast.
The University of Maine plays its homecoming game against Northeastern, Husson University of Bangor plays its third and final home contest against future league foe Gallaudet and Maine Maritime Academy of Castine faces a critical New England Football Conference game at Framingham State.
Also, the CBB series begins as Colby College of Waterville visits Bates College of Lewiston.
Northeastern Huskies (2-5, 1-3 CAA) at Maine Black Bears (4-3, 2-2 CAA), noon, Alfond Stadium, Orono: The Bears are hoping for a large, enthusiastic crowd in this key Colonial Athletic Association matchup as they seek their third win in a row.
With five games left, UMaine has placed itself in the discussion about potential postseason teams. To take the next step, it must deal with a Northeastern squad that has an equally large chip on its shoulder.
Like the Bears, the Huskies have tested some of the league’s top teams. NU is coming off back-to-back losses to Massachusetts and New Hampshire, while UMaine has beaten Delaware and Hofstra the last two weeks.
“There’s a ton of similarities in how these teams are progressing,” said UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove. “We certainly have a tremendous level of respect for Northeastern.”
While it doesn’t stand out statistically, the UMaine defense has gotten the job done of late. The Bears are presented with the challenge of containing versatile back Alex Broomfield, the CAA’s No. 3 rusher (102 yards per game, 8 touchdowns).
“You see the number of touches he has as a running back and as a quarterback in the single-wing type of look,” Cosgrove said. “He throws the football and runs the option for them. He catches the ball, returns punts.”
UMaine throws out a resilient defense headed by end Jovan Belcher (43 tackles, 4 sacks) and linebackers Andrew Downey (57 tackles) and Sean Wasson (49 tackles, 2 intercep-tions).
NU’s offense is directed by poised senior quarterback Anthony Orio (121-for-201, 1,447 yards, 8 TDs), whose favorite targets include Chris Plum (22 receptions-280 yds.-3 TDs) and Greg Abelli (21-203-1).
“He’s a veteran presence and he can make the throws, put them in the right play, and can hurt you with his feet if he has to,” Cosgrove said.
UMaine will try to keep NU’s defense guessing with its ever-evolving offense led by junior QB Mike Brusko (14-for-22, 221 yds., 2TDs). He is a legitimate run threat, while freshman H-back Jared Turcotte (7.5 yards per carry) and tailback Derek Session (4.6 ypc) can run or catch the ball effectively.
“Session and Turc, they’re real complementary guys to each other in terms of what they can do,” Cosgrove said. “They block for each other. They can run the same plays.”
The Huskies rank last in the CAA in total defense (432 ypg). Their mainstays include LB Phil Higgins (64 tackles) and Nate Thellen (39 tackles, 5 interceptions).
Bear tracks: UMaine received some encouraging news on the injury front. Senior tail-back Jhamal Fluellen (shoulder/neck) was back at practice this week and could return as early as next Saturday. Also, the injury to sophomore QB Adam Farkes (shoulder) is not as bad as first feared and he may able to return before season’s end.
Gallaudet Bison (1-5) at Husson Eagles (5-2), noon, Winkin Complex, Bangor: The Eagles look to stay on track for a possible Division III at-large bid.
Husson has won five of its last six outings, including last Saturday’s 49-14 win over SUNY Maritime College. The Eagles are 2-0 at home this fall.
Husson’s grind-it-out offense features tailbacks Julius Williams (119 ypg) and Justin Lindie of Winslow (79.7 ypg), along with freshman quarterback James McCandless (49-for-101, 786 yds., 5 TDs) and wide receiver James Dobson (18 rec., 360 yds., 4 TDs).
Gallaudet has been outscored 71-9 in its last two games. The Eagles unleash a defense spearheaded by linebackers Earl Wilson (45 tackles) and Bobby Gilbert of Beaver Cove (42).
Maine Maritime Academy Mariners (4-3, 3-1 NEFC) at Framingham State Rams (3-4, 1-3 NEFC), 1 p.m., Framingham, Mass.: MMA continues its quest for a Bogan Division crown on the road. The Mariners have won four of their last five, including last week’s 26-7 victory over Massachusetts Maritime.
The Rams have been good against the run but encounter an MMA offense that has churned out 34.9 points and 414 yards per game. The Mariners run the option with quarter-back Tyler Angell (69 ypg, 5 TDs), fullback Jim Bower (165 ypg, 18 TDs) and halfback Nick Bourassa (56 ypg, 2 TDs).
MMA continues to look to tighten up a defense that has allowed 29.9 points and 351 yards per game. The Mariners must contain running back David Leach (129 ypg), QB Bruce Rich (126-of-198, 1,540 yds., 11 TDs) and wideout Jonathan Hayes (44 rec., 598 yds., 3 TDs).
Colby Mules (3-2) at Bates Bobcats (0-5), 1 p.m., Garcelon Field, Lewiston: This marks the 111th meeting between these two programs. Colby leads the series 63-41-6 and has won five straight over Bates.
Today’s other game: Bowdoin (1-4) at Wesleyan (1-4), 12:30 p.m.