It is a re-evaluation kind of week for the University of Maine football team and some of its instate collegiate counterparts.
The Black Bears hope to clean up their act in a tough Colonial Athletic Association game against a traditional rival, Husson University of Bangor looks to snap a four-game losing streak, and Maine Maritime Academy of Castine hopes to get back on the winning track after suffering its first loss of the season last week.
New Hampshire Wildcats (2-2, 0-1 CAA) at Maine Black Bears (1-3, 0-1 CAA), 6 p.m., Alfond Stadium, Orono: The Bears look to eliminate costly penalties and play a full 60 minutes against the Wildcats.
Coach Jack Cosgrove’s squad remains confident it can make some noise in the CAA, starting with an emotional contest against an opponent that has won the last seven meetings.
“We just have to have more of an intelligent effort,” said UMaine quarterback Warren Smith. “I felt like we dominated the No. 8 (now No. 7) team in the country (William & Mary) in all phases of the game. We handed them the win with the dumb penalties we had.”
The Bears will try to regain possession of the Brice-Cowell Musket, the spoils of the annual game, and snap a seven-game losing streak to the Wildcats.
“It’s simultaneous to their seven straight years in the NCAA playoffs, which speaks volumes about their program, their consistency,” Cosgrove said.
UMaine’s defense will be tested. Linebacker Donte Dennis (27 tackles) and safety Jerron McMillian (25) hope to lead UMaine’s effort in trying to contain UNH.
The Wildcats, led by quarterback R.J. Toman (81-for-125, 899 yards, 7 touchdowns, 4 interceptions), have plenty of balance. Tailback Dontra Peters (78.5 ypg rushing) and receivers Chris Jeannot (19 receptions, 161 yds., 1 TD), Terrance Fox (23 rec., 294 yds., 3TDs) and Joey Orlando (16 rec., 162 yds., 2 TDs) are among the many threats.
“They’re very versatile on offense and they have a good quarterback in R.J. Toman,” Cosgrove said. “They do what they need to do to win the game.”
UMaine wants to continue developing its offensive scheme, which has been able to mix the run and pass effectively.
The Bears welcome back tailback Jared Turcotte of Lewiston, who missed last week’s game to witness the birth of his daughter, Aiva. Turcotte (96.7 ypg) provides toughness and speed, while Smith (71-106, 627 yds., 2 TD, 2 INT) has been fairly sharp passing to the likes of flanker Derek Session (20-220), tight end Derek Buttles (15-132) and wideout Des Randall (13-87, 1 TD).
“We’ve just got to keep executing on offense, keep running the football and keep making plays in the pass game,” said Smith, stressing UMaine must have an intelligent effort.
New Hampshire’s defense has allowed only 274.5 ypg. The unit is spearheaded by linebackers Matt Evans (42 tackles) and Alan Buzbee (31).
“They run to the football as well as anybody you’ll see in college football,” Cosgrove said. “They’re very physical, they play with a purpose.”
BEAR TRACKS: UMaine will be without senior offensive tackle Alex Batanian, while senior linebacker Mark Masterson is questionable, both with undisclosed injuries.
Gallaudet Bison (0-2, 0-1 ECFC) at Husson Eagles (0-4, 0-1 ECFC), noon, Winkin Complex, Bangor: It’s Homecoming for the Eagles, who are looking to break into the win column.
Husson showed some signs of offensive life last week in a loss to SUNY Maritime, but continued to experience difficulties on defense. The Eagles have surrendered 55 points and 542.5 yards per contest.
Gallaudet, a university for the deaf and hearing-impared, has lost its three games by a combined eight points. That includes a 35-34 setback last week at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Worcester State Lancers (3-1) at Maine Maritime Academy Mariners (2-1), 1 p.m., Ritchie Field, Castine: MMA hopes to bounce back after suffering a tough loss last week at Fitchburg State.
The Mariners have plenty of motivation in what is a pivotal early-season game in the New England Football Conference’s Bogan Division.
MMA pits its vaunted triple-option run game, led by fullback Jim Bower (132.3 ypg), quarterback Matt Rende (125.7 ypg) and halfback Nic Bourassa (85.7 ypg) against a WSC defense that has allowed 23.8 points and 298 yards per outing.
Saturday’s other games, 1 p.m.: Middlebury (1-0) at Colby (0-1), Bates (0-1) at Tufts (1-0), Amherst (1-0) at Bowdoin (0-1).