The University of Maine football team embraces a simple philosophy of playing well enough in every game to be in position to win in the fourth quarter.
The Black Bears now look to transfer that philosophy onto the end of their season.
Coach Jack Cosgrove’s team is in the “fourth quarter” of the 2008 campaign heading into Saturday’s crucial Colonial Athletic Association regular-season finale against traditional rival New Hampshire.
At 8-3 overall and 5-2 in league play, the Bears have won six in a row and are ranked 17th in The Sports Network Top 25 poll. The Wildcats (8-2, 5-2 CAA) come in at No. 11.
A victory would virtually guarantee UMaine a spot in the 16-team NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) playoff field. A loss would dash their hopes.
Also at stake is the CAA North Division title and the Bears should be even hungrier to add that to their list of accomplishments, considering they were picked to finish fourth in the division in the preseason coaches’ poll.
“The opportunity that we have in front of us is probably something that was maybe a pipe dream way back in August, but it has become reality now,” Cosgrove said during the weekly CAA coaches teleconference. “In the words of a lot of our players, it’s just a great opportunity for us to be here and be able to play with so much at stake.”
UMaine’s veteran players, in particular, appear to be enjoying the ride, especially when considering the situation they were in a year ago at this time.
“We were going home at this time last year with four wins,” Cosgrove said. “Right now we’ve doubled that and have an opportunity to extend our season and get a great win for our program.”
The team’s growth was demonstrated again last Saturday when UMaine was tested early, then responded to pull away for a 37-7 victory at Rhode Island.
The Bears’ defense afforded the Rams little in the way of consistency, while the powerhouse run game continued its productive play behind fullback Jared Turcotte of Lewiston and tailback Pushaun Brown, who combined for 217 yards and four touchdowns.
UMaine’s depth also was in evidence as senior tailback Jhamal Fluellen was knocked out of the game on a kick return in the second quarter, while tailback Derek Session sat out with a knee injury. The hope is both will return against New Hampshire.
“The young men we have in the backfield, their success is really predicated on the hard work of the guys we have up front,” Cosgrove said. “We have a number of talented backs.”
UMaine offers $5 football tickets
The UMaine athletic department is making a special offer for fans who want to watch the Black Bear football team in Saturday’s CAA game against UNH at Alfond Stadium.
Tickets are only $5 when purchased in advance, by Friday at 5 p.m. Tickets purchased after that will be at the regular price.
Advance tickets can be obtained by visiting the Alfond Arena ticket office in Orono, or by calling 581-2327 or 1-800-756-8326.
UMaine blood drive Saturday
The American Red Cross and UMaine athletics are holding the “Bleed Black Bear Blue Blood Drive” Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the UMaine field house in Orono.
Donors will receive a limited edition T-shirt while one lucky participant will win a signed UMaine hockey jersey and two tickets to Saturday’s game against Merrimack. There is an earlier drive scheduled today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the campus recreation center.
UMaine athletics encourages all Black Bears to donate blood. Walk-ins are welcome or donors can set up an appointment by visiting www.givelife.org.