It’s difficult enough to lose a game when the opponent is superior in talent.
It’s harder still when repeated mistakes prevent a team from beating a highly-regarded opponent.
Such was the case Saturday night at Alfond Stadium in Orono, where the University of Maine football team repeatedly shot itself in the foot during a 24-21 loss to eighth-ranked William & Mary.
Coach Jack Cosgrove’s Black Bears incurred 12 penalties for 134 yards. That total included five personal fouls.
After the game, Cosgrove took the blame for UMaine’s uncharacteristic behavior, which demonstrated what he called “a complete lack of discipline.”
“I apologize to William & Mary for our conduct,” Cosgrove said. “I didn’t see it coming.”
The litany of penalties consistently put the Bears’ offense behind the 8-ball. And it was the offensive unit that was responsible for eight of the flags, which set UMaine back a total of 80 yards.
“There’s no disputing the calls,” Cosgrove said. “We were holding, we were blocking in the back, holding again… there’s no excuse for that stuff.”
It was apparent the shoddy effort hit home with junior quarterback Warren Smith, whose eyes and tear-smeared eye black told the story of a game that should have been won.
“We just self-destructed in the second half,” Smith said. “We just killed ourselves and that (loss) was the outcome.”
William & Mary advanced to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision national semifinals last season. The Tribe, laden with upperclassmen, exhibited poise even while UMaine was creating an unstable atmosphere on the field.
The Bears, with only three senior regulars on the field Saturday, let their exuberance, and sometimes their tempers, get the best of them.
“There’s no excuse for that stuff,” Cosgrove said of the penalties. “The emotion that we were playing with was not poised emotion.”
William & Mary put its superior on-field experience to good use in its execution and composure.
The Tribe, which had been largely ineffective during the first three quarters, twice marched down the field on offense and scored a defensive touchdown in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.
“It’s a great credit to them,” Cosgrove said. “They hung in there, they were poised. That’s something that we don’t have right now and it’s something we’ve got to work for.”
UMaine will try to improve its performance and maturity this week as it prepares for Saturday’s 6 p.m. home game against New Hampshire.
Cosgrove explained UMaine has to learn how to deal with adversity, especially in key situations, by staying on task.
“We’ve got to do a better job coaching that and a better job preparing for that,” he said. “That’s got to come out on the field with the guys that are growing into that.”
Brown gives Bears solid threat
Pushaun Brown got a serious workout in Saturday’s game when he started at tailback in place of then-expectant father Jared Turcotte. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound junior rushed for 104 yards on 30 carries and scored two touchdowns.
“We loved how he responded. We loved how hard he played,” Cosgrove said. “We’re fortunate to have a kid who can step in there when you lose a good player and go to work with the skills that he has.
UMaine’s Turcotte becomes a father
Turcotte, a junior tailback for UMaine, became a father early Sunday morning when his wife Allysha gave birth to their daughter.
The Bears’ newest fan, Aiva Jeannette Turcotte, weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces and measured 20 inches.
Turcotte missed Saturday night’s game against William & Mary to be with Allysha and welcome the baby into the world.
Bears’ Masterson sidelined again
UMaine starting middle linebacker Mark Masterson is apparently nursing an injury and did not suit up for Saturday’s game.
The senior, who received a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA, played in only parts of three games in 2009 before missing the rest of the season with a foot injury.
His status for Saturday’s 6 p.m. home game against rival New Hampshire remains in question.
UMaine alumni to honor Rogerson
Late UMaine football coach Ron Rogerson will be honored this weekend in Orono as part of Football Alumni Weekend on the Orono campus.
Members of Rogerson’s UMaine teams have put together some activities to reconnect with his family and recognize his impact on the program.
“Ron was a very passionate football coach,” Cosgrove said. “He had a great impact on the young men he coached during his time here in Orono.”
Rogerson coached the Black Bears from 1981-84, directing them to the 1983 Yankee Conference championship. He left UMaine to become the head coach at Princeton and worked there two years before dying in 1987 at the age of 44.
The festivities begin Friday with a 7 p.m. dinner at the Sea Dog Brewing Co. in Bangor. The Rogerson activities also will include an 8 a.m. golf outing Saturday at Penobscot Valley Country Club in Orono and lunch at Pat’s Pizza in Orono.
Members of the group will then gather for the UMaine-New Hampshire game at 6 p.m., where they have the opportunity to receive sideline passes.
For more information on the activities, contact Steve Keating at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tom Ellison at email@example.com. Reservations must be placed prior to Wednesday.