ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine football team had time during its bye week to re-evaluate its weaknesses and seek improvement. The Black Bears showed Saturday that they have made progress since their Oct. 17 loss to top-ranked Richmond.
Sophomore quarterback Warren Smith passed for 226 yards and one touchdown, while the UMaine defense came up with four turnovers to earn a 19-9 Colonial Athletic Association victory over 19th-ranked Massachusetts at Alfond Stadium.
Coach Jack Cosgrove’s Black Bears (4-4 overall, 3-2 CAA) scored twice going into a strong southerly wind to claim a momentum-building win.
Smith completed 19 of 35 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown and also emerged as UMaine’s leading rusher with 13 carries for 39 yards and a score. Landis Williams made six catches for 77 yards to head the receiver corps.
While the teams came out nearly even in total yardage (328 for UMass, 308 for UMaine), the Minutemen (4-4, 2-3 CAA) didn’t take care of the ball. Two UMass quarterbacks combined for four interceptions, while the visitors also lost two fumbles.
Minutemen starter Kyle Havens, who was intercepted four times last week against Richmond, was seven of 12 passing for 99 yards with an interception before being replaced by Woodward (14-for-27, 134 yards, 3 INTs.)
Clinging to a 13-7 lead, the Bears came up with a big score midway through the fourth quarter. Smith completed five consecutive passes for first downs, three to Mike Brusko and two to Williams, before he scooted five yards for a touchdown to make it 19-7 with 8:46 remaining.
However, the Minutemen kept within apparent striking distance when Ke’Mon Bailey intercepted the two-point conversion pass and ran 102 yards to give the visitors two points.
UMaine came up with interceptions by Donte Dennis, Trevor Coston and Jerron McMillian on Umass’s last three possessions to preserve the victory.
Linebacker Vinson Givens spearheaded the UMaine defense with a career-best 12 tackles. Dennis finished with 11 tackles, including one for a loss, two interceptions, a fumble recovery and two pass breakups.
Tyler Holmes paced UMass with 16 tackles and Eric Dickson came up with 14.
UMaine took a 7-0 lead on Jordan Waxman’s 25-yard field goal with 8:00 left in the first quarter. UMass took the lead back when Jon Hernandez capped a 77-yard drive with a 1-yard TD dive with 3:47 left in the quarter.
The Bears went back on top with 1:04 to play in the second quarter when Smith connected with Ty Jones on a seven-yard scoring pass that made it 10-7.
UMaine added to the lead at 8:55 of the third quarter on Waxman’s 32-yard field goal into the wind.