June 25, 2018
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Black Bears, Mariners work to maintain winning feeling

By Pete Warner

There is nothing better for a football team than the feeling derived from winning.

The University of Maine and Maine Maritime Academy will try to keep their momentum going with home games, while Colby College looks to get back in the win column in Saturday games featuring Maine college programs.

Iona Gaels (3-5) at Maine Black Bears (5-3), noon, Alfond Stadium, Orono: Coach Jack Cosgrove’s team looks to win its fourth straight game in a nonleague matchup with Iona of the Division I Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The Bears, coming off a string of five consecutive Colomial Athletic Association contests, must avoid a letdown against the Gaels.

“When you win it gets into your mindset, gets into your system and it’s a great feeling,” said Cosgrove, who has talked to his team about the importance of the game.

“We pride ourselves on respecting our opponents and honoring the game we play,” he added. “They’re preparing hard for this game and it’s a huge game for them as well as us.”

The Bears hope to maintain the cohesiveness established last week by the defense. End Jovan Belcher (70 tackles) and linebackers Andrew Downey (64) and Sean Wasson (58) pace a unit that will have to contend with Iona’s passing attack.

The Gaels have utilized two quarterbacks in Nick Rossetti (97-for-159, 959 yards, 7 touchdowns, 5 interceptions) and Warren Smith (71-134, 833 yds., 6 TDs, 7 INTs). Rossetti, who also is Iona’s leading rusher (36 yards per game) has missed the last two games with an injury.

Their featured receivers include Tim Mastrino (44 receptions, 466 yds., 4 TDs) and Nick Groth (28 rec., 357 yds., 3 TDs).

UMaine has come up with eight interceptions in the last two contests and held Northeastern to only 253 net yards.

“We certainly saw the defense at its finest last weekend,” Cosgrove said. “We played more like a comprehensive team and had another great victory.”

Offensively, the Bears should test Iona with their multifaceted attack. The trio of fullback Jared Turcotte of Lewiston (6.1 yards per carry), quarterback Mike Brusko (5.2 ypc) and tail-back Derek Session (4.5 ypc) have combined to average 39 carries good for 201 yards during the last three games.

“This physical style of football is conducive to this month [November],” Cosgrove said. “Our practices have been tough.”

Brusko also has been efficient throwing the ball, completing 23 of 34 passes (.676) for 356 yards and four TDs without an interception since stepping in for injured Adam Farkes (shoulder) three weeks ago.

Iona, which has surrendered 34.2 points and 458.5 yards per game, has allowed a puffy 246 ypg on the ground. Leading the charge is inside linebacker Andrew Lipski (95 tackles, 10 for a loss), while LBs Gerald Ford (53 tackles) and Geno Raman (54) are other top performers.

Bear tracks: Farkes has been making progress in his recovery and was expected to be evaluated Thursday to determine a timetable for a possible return to action. The sophomore, who suffered a left shoulder injury in the Oct. 11 game at Delaware, was to visit the doctor who performed sur-gery on the A/C joint last May.

Coast Guard Bears (3-4) at Maine Maritime Academy Mariners (5-3), noon, Ritchie Field, Castine: The Mariners hope to take the next step to-ward a New England Football Conference Bogan Division title against the Bears.

Coach Chris McKenney’s MMA team is 4-1 in division play, while Coast Guard comes in 3-2 after winning back-to-back division titles.

The Mariners continue to dominate with their high-powered option offense that has generated a league-high 36.9 points and 366 rushing yards per game. Fullback Jim Bower (1,293 yds., 20 TDs) and quarterback Tyler Angell (611 yds., 6 TDs) are the top ground gainers.

Coast Guard beat Worcester State last week to end a two-game losing streak. The Bears look to QB Niles Pierson (396 yds. rushing, 6 TDs; 79-148 pass-ing, 668 yds., 2 TDs, 7 INTs).

Colby Mules (3-3) at Tufts Jumbos (3-3), 12:30 p.m., Zimman Field, Somerville, Mass.: The Mules look to get back on track after committing 10 turnovers in a loss to rival Bates in their CBB Series opener.

Bates Bobcats (1-5) at Bowdoin Polar Bears (2-4), 12:30 p.m., Whittier Field, Brunswick: Bates can lock up the CBB championship by knocking off Bowdoin. The teams have played 110 times dating back to 1889 with the Polar Bears holding a 64-39-7 advantage in the all-time series.

Bowdoin has won the last two CBB titles.

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