ORONO, Maine — Chris Treister made his first collegiate start Saturday afternoon for the University of Maine football team.
It is a day he is likely to remember the rest of his life.
The sophomore quarterback from Cape Elizabeth passed for 461 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for a score to spearhead the Black Bears to a 41-17 Colonial Athletic Association victory over Rhode Island at Morse Field.
The coming out party for the former Portland High School quarterback was tempered significantly by a medical situation involving UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove.
Cosgrove apparently experienced shortness of breath on the sideline late in the fourth quarter and was taken by ambulance to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he was listed in “good” condition Saturday night by a nursing supervisor.
“I was just worried about coach Cos, still am, obviously,” Brusko said.
“With coach Cos, it was a little bit scary,” Brusko added. “He seemed fine. I guess he was having a little shortness of breath or something. They’re taking care of him, just as a precautionary measure, to make sure everything’s OK.”
UMaine improved to 5-5 overall, 4-3 in CAA play, heading into next week’s season finale at New Hampshire.
Treister, who replaced sophomore Warren Smith after he suffered a season-ending broken foot at James Madison, played with the poise and crisp execution of an experienced veteran. He completed 38 of 44 passes, establishing a school single-game record with an .864 completion percentage.
Treister relied heavily on senior wide receiver Landis Williams, who made career-high 17 receptions and set the UMaine single-game record with 220 receiving yards. He had TD catches of 10, 41, 58 yards.
Ty Jones made nine catches for 128 yards and one TD and Mike Brusko grabbed nine passes for 57 yards and a score.
Treister also ran the ball 12 times for 33 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter. The only real blemish on his performance was an Ellis Foster interception that was returned 45 yards for a score in the third quarter.
UMaine trailed 10-7 at halftime, but was jumpstarted when Steven Barker blocked a punt by Rhode Island’s Tim Edger with 9:30 left in the third quarter.
The Bears scored four plays later on a 6-yard pass from Treister to Brusko, putting UMaine ahead for good at 14-10.
The hosts scored on their next possession as Treister went 5-for-5 passing to set up his 23-yard TD run with 3:55 left in the quarter.
UMaine then answered the interception touchdown by scoring on its next three possessions to put the contest out of reach.
Sophomore linebackers Donte Dennis (9 tackles) and Vinson Givans (7 tackles) paced the Bears’ defense, which also included five tackles (2.5 sacks) for senior end Jordan Stevens of Temple.
Rhode Island, which put up 42 points in its loss at New Hampshire a week earlier, mustered only 184 totals yards, including 13 via the run. Quarterback Chris Paul-Etienne was 13 of 31 passing for 137 yards and a TD.
Rhode Island scored on its final possession of the second quarter to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Paul-Etienne marched the Rams 78 yards on eight plays, including three screen passes totaling 69 yards. Shawn Leonard raced 35 yards on the last of those to put the visitors on top with 1:34 left in the half.
Treister methodically moved the Bears into field-goal range on their next possession, completing seven passes for 47 yards. However, backup place-kicker Josh Hesseltine, a freshman from Old Town, hit the left upright with his 32-yard attempt from the right hashmark as time expired.
Treister completed 20 of 24 throws for 177 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He was not intercepted.
URI took a 3-0 lead on its first possession, which encompassed 14 plays and 46 yards and two fourth-down conversions. Louis Feinstein capped the drive with a 32-yard field goal at the 8:37 mark.
UMaine answered with a 10-play, 70-yard drive. Treister went 6-for-6 passing good for 83 yards, including a 9-yard scoring toss to Williams in the right side of the end zone. Hesseltine’s PAT made it 7-3 with 2:28 to play in the quarter.
The teams combined for minus-2 yards rushing in the half, with URI gaining 0 net yards on 16 attempts and UMaine minus-2 on nine tries.