The University of Maine and Maine Maritime Academy play important conference games, while Husson University takes a break from its league schedule during Saturday’s football games involving Maine colleges.
Colby, Bates and Bowdoin all are on the road in New England Small College Athletic Conference play.
Maine Black Bears (2-3, 1-1 CAA) at Hofstra Pride (3-2, 1-1 CAA), 1 p.m., Shuart Stadium, Hempstead, N.Y.: The Bears hope to snap a three-game losing streak in a Colonial Athletic Association clash against the Pride.
Coming off a 27-17 loss to Delaware, coach Jack Cosgrove’s UMaine squad is out of wiggle room if it wants to keep alive its hopes of winning a CAA title. Hofstra should be riding high after knocking off No. 7 James Madison last week.
UMaine continues to search for continuity and effectiveness of effort. The Bears have shown they can compete, but haven’t been able to close out games.
“Certainly our perseverance has got to be our next goal to fulfill,” Cosgrove said. “We’ve got to make sure we get a complete game. The effort’s certainly there, but we’re finding a way at the end of it to not be making the plays that we need to make to win the football game.”
The Bears seek better balance between the run and the pass. Sophomore tailback Derek Session (82.2 yards per game, 3 touchdowns) has been less productive after UMaine retooled the offense under sophomore quarterback Warren Smith.
Smith (65-for-100, 775 yds., 6 TDs, 6 interceptions) has given the Bears more punch through the air throwing to senior wideout Landis Williams (28 receptions, 332 yds., 4 TDs) and Ty Jones (12 rec., 117 yds, 2 TDs).
However, with guards Steve Shea and Chris Howley healthy, UMaine hopes to beef up its ground game.
The Hofstra defense looks to linebacker Luke Bonus (40 tackles) and Basim Hudeen (39) to lead the charge. Despite unspectacular numbers in the CAA defensive rankings, the Pride limited JMU to 192 total yards and forced two turnovers in last week’s 24-17 victory.
“They put James Madison in some really difficult down and distance situations,” Cosgrove said. “They played very hard, fast on the defensive side of the ball.”
On defense, the youthful and banged-up Bears will need to pull it together against the Pride. UMaine is without three starters in linebacker Mark Masterson (ankle), end Kris Enslen (knee) and cornerback Dom Cusano (concussion).
Sophomore LB Donte Dennis (57 tackles, 7 for a loss) is coming off a career outing with 23 tackles against Delaware. Senior LB Brandon McLaughlin (35 tackles) has been a steadying influence on the unit.
UMaine must contend with a multifaceted Hofstra offense that utilizes the QB talents of both Cory Christopher (83-for-137, 887 yds., 5 TDs, 2 INTs) and Steve Probst (7-for-15, 77 yds., 1 TD).
“Within series, they’ll change the quarterback,” Cosgrove said. “In the nature of offense that they’re running, there’s designed quarterback runs for both of them and run-pass options and drop-back throws.”
Kwabena Asante (153 yds.) is the leading rusher, while Aaron Weaver (25 rec., 309 yds., 1 TD) heads the receiver corps.
Husson Eagles (2-2) at Springfield Pride (3-1), 1:30 p.m., Stagg Field, Springfield, Mass.: The Eagles encounter a formidable opponent in the Pride of the Eastern 8 Conference, the No. 2-ranked team in the New England Division III Coaches Poll this week.
Husson looks to regroup after dropping a tough 10-7 Eastern Collegiate Football Conference decision to Gallaudet last weekend. The Eagles are playing on the road for the second straight week and have four contests outside Maine in a five-week span.
Coach Niles Nelson’s team will face a difficult defensive challenge against Springfield’s triple option attack. The Pride are rushing for 402 yards per game while averaging 45.8 points per contest.
Husson has allowed 191 ypg via the run but has given up only 17.8 ppg behind Chris Dalecki (32 tackles) and linebacker Bobby Gilbert of Beaver Cove (34 tackles).
The Eagles have been solid offensively but likely will need some fireworks to keep pace with Springfield.
Worcester State (0-5, 0-2 NEFC Bogan Division) at Maine Maritime (3-1, 1-1 NEFC Bogan), 1 p.m., Ritchie Field, Castine: MMA looks to stay within striking distance in the New England Football Conference Bogan Division while taking on bottom-dwelling Worcester State.
The Mariners lead the NEFC in scoring (34.5 ppg), rushing (343 ypg) and are second in total offense (420 ypg). Fullback Jim Bower (121.8 ypg) heads a versatile option offensive attack.
Despite a lackluster defense that ranks among the most forgiving in the NEFC, MMA encounters a Lancers offense that is among the least productive.
Today’s other games, 1 p.m.: Bates (0-2) at Williams (1-1), Bowdoin (1-1) at Tufts (1-1), Colby (0-2) at Wesleyan (1-1)