Bears look to continue air assault

Posted Oct. 03, 2009, at 1:46 a.m.
Last modified Oct. 19, 2010, at 11:20 a.m.

The University of Maine and Maine Maritime Academy will try to rebound from losses, while Husson University hopes to extend its winning streak to three games in today’s football games involving instate teams.

Delaware Blue Hens (2-2, 0-2 CAA) at Maine Black Bears (2-2, 1-0 CAA), 6 p.m., Alfond Stadium, Orono: The Bears hope to build off the optimism generated from the performance of their revamped offense and sophomore quarterback Warren Smith at Syracuse in facing the Blue Hens.

UMaine jumps into Colonial Athletic Association play against Delaware, which has lost close games to No. 1 Richmond and No. 5 William & Mary. Coach Jack Cosgrove was encouraged by the Bears’ play at Syracuse.

“I’m hoping that what’s to come out of it is a picture of how well we can play when we’re competing as we did,” he said.

UMaine unveiled a more potent air attack behind the strong-armed Smith (42-for-64, 517 yards, 4 touchdowns, 4 interceptions). Senior Landis Williams (18 receptions, 228 yards, 4 TDs) provides a big-play threat among a diverse group of receivers and backs.

The increased passing presence should help open up running room for tailback Derek Session (72 carries, 354 yds., 3 TDs) and company.

“We have an ability now to be two-dimensional and to do both with success,” Cosgrove said. “It’s something we’ve advanced in the last few weeks.”

The Blue Hens have allowed only 15.8 points and 320 yards per game, with 213 of those coming via the pass. Delaware’s key players include linebacker Benard Makumbi (27 tackles) and safety Charles Graves (26).

“Delaware is very good in the secondary but has a good, solid defense all the way around,” Cosgrove said.

UMaine continues to show progress on defense, despite allowing 23.8 points and 327 yards per contest. The Bears look to establish a strong pass rush behind senior end Jordan Stevens of Temple (22 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and have their linebackers control the run game.

Sophomore linebacker Donte Dennis is the top tackler (34) for the Bears, who may get a boost from the return of senior LB Mark Masterson, who has missed 2½ games with a left ankle injury.

Delaware is coming off its second-worst rushing performance in school history (minus-2 yards) against the Tribe. The Hens rank last in CAA rushing with 91 yards per game but are third in passing (234 ypg).

Delaware is directed by junior QB Pat Devlin (79-124, 923 yds., 6 TDs, 2 INTs.), a transfer from Penn State. Mark Mackey (20 rec., 225 yds.) and Rob Jones (15-162, 2 TDs) are the leading receivers.

“We’re really expecting to see more of a balanced look from them, run and pass, and feel like they’re going to challenge us,” Cosgrove said.

BEAR TRACKS: Backup linebacker Levi Ervin of Lisbon Falls will miss tonight’s game after suffering a concussion at Syracuse.… free safety Trevor Coston (3 INTs), who was taken out of the Carrier Dome in an ambulance last Saturday, suffered no long-term effects from a hit and is expected to play against Delaware.

Husson Eagles (2-1, 1-0 ECFC) at Gallaudet Bison (2-2, 1-1 ECFC), noon, Washington, D.C.: The Eagles travel to our nation’s capital for the first of four straight Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference road games.

Coach Niles Nelson’s squad has won two straight, outscoring its opponents 98-38. Husson leads the ECFC in scoring (31.5 ppg) and total offense (335 ypg).

The Eagles have settled in behind the steady running of tailback Julius Williams (79.5 ypg). Sophomore quarterback Jack Hersom of Sidney (14-22, 92 yds.) has James Dobson (7-84) among his favorite targets.

Gallaudet has given up a league-low 309 yards per outing.

The Bison’s option attack is averaging a conference-best 298 ypg sparked by Michael Gimeli (57 carries, 276 yds., 1TD) and Jimmy Gardner (82-253-4).

Westfield State Owls (2-2, 0-1 NEFC Bogan) at Maine Maritime Academy Mariners (1-1, 0-1 NEFC Bogan, 1 p.m., Ritchie Field, Castine: The Mariners will try to regroup after a 40-14 New England Football Conference Bogan Division road setback at Bridgewater State last week.

Coach Chris McKenney’s MMA team managed only 238 yards against the Bears and looks to get back into a good option groove behind fullback Jim Bower (65-363-5) and halfback Nick Bourassa (22-255-2).

MMA ranks first in the NEFC and second in Division III, piling up 359 rushing yards per game. Though they throw infrequently, the Mariners also rank first in the nation in pass efficiency (219.85).

Today, the Mariners entertain the Owls, who boast the stingiest defense in the NEFC. Westfield State has given up only 8.5 ppg and ranks fourth against the run at 131 ypg.

Josh Mathieu has made five interceptions and linebacker Chris James has 26 tackles.

Today’s other games: Bowdoin (1-0) at Amherst (1-0), 1:30 p.m.; Colby (0-1) at Middlebury (0-1), 1 p.m.; Tufts (0-1) at Bates (0-1), 1 p.m.

pwarner@bangordailynews.net

990-8240

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