BANGOR, Maine — The Husson University Eagles took care of business in most every category on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon to win their inaugural Eastern Collegiate Football Conference game.
Husson utilized a well-balanced scoring attack, superior special teams play, aggressive defense, and a knack for taking advantage of opposition mistakes to hand State University of New York Maritime College a 35-26 loss at Winkin Complex.
Tailback Julius Williams is nursing injuries, but showed no ill effects as he ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for the 2-1 Eagles, who rolled up 304 yards of total offense.
“He’s been banged up, but he’s a warrior who showed a lot of heart today,” said sophomore quarterback Jack Hersom of Sidney.
Hersom was equally productive as he completed 10 of 21 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for another 18 yards and a score.
“We did what we did best, which was running to set up the pass,” Hersom said. “I think they were keying on our running game more often in the beginning.”
It shaped up like a fast start for the visiting Privateers from Throgg’s Neck, N.Y., as they scored on the game’s opening possession (63 yards in 12 plays) and got the ball back after forcing Husson to try for a 29-yard field goal with 3:04 left in the first quarter.
Carlos Romero’s attempt sailed wide left and Maritime took over, but not for long as Gilbert forced a fumble on second down and Dillon Shaw recovered at the Maritime 35-yard line.
Hersom took over by hitting P.J. Dowe of Bangor for a seven-yard pass, Roderic Johnson for a 27-yarder, and then running it in from one yard out for a game-tying TD with 1:04 left in the first quarter.
The defense came up big again for the Eagles in the second quarter as Ramael Barton grabbed a wobbly pass attempt at the Husson 45 and raced 55 the other way for a touchdown.
“I was on the strong side of the field and they ran weak side. Guys came up, but the quarterback seemed unsure and as soon as he let the ball go, someone disrupted the pass somehow and Barton scooped it up,” said Gilbert. “The quarterback was the only guy in the way so I pushed him and we were just off to the races.”
Maritime would tie it on a 7-yard TD run by Jamie Spanopoulos — one of three TD runs on the day by the sophomore fullback — with 5:14 left in the first half.
Husson retook the lead with 42 seconds left as Hersom found Dowe for a 15-yard TD strike over the middle.
Husson’s Chris Dalecki then forced a fumble which Derrick Snead recovered at the M-39, but the Eagles weren’t able to convert in the closing seconds of the first half.
Husson would only be delayed from padding the lead as Hersom capped a six-play, 59-yard scoring drive with a 40-yard TD pass — again down the middle — to a wide-open James Dobson on its second possession of the second half.
“I was just looking to get him the ball because he’s one of our playmakers,” Hersom said. “That’s one of those perfect plays the first five minutes of every practice.”
The Privateers came right back with a score to make it 28-20, but that’s as close as they’d get as Husson made it 35-20 won Williams’ three-yard TD run with six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Spanopoulos battered Husson for 115 yards on 29 carries, but earned every one of them.
“The first thing you’ve gotta stop is the fullback,” said Husson head coach Niles Nelson. “Their fullback’s tough and their offensive line is much improved over last year, but we were able to hit him and gang tackle him more in the fourth quarter.”
The Privateers reeled off 241 yards on the ground.
“We’re not really a come-from-behind offense, but I never felt we were really out of it until the very end,” said Privateers head coach Clayton Kendrick-Holmes. “They really made us pay for our mistakes.”