ORONO — It was a night marked by second — and sometimes third — chances. In the end, the University of Maine took advantage.
Brian Harvey kicked a 37-yard field goal in overtime Saturday night, lifting the Black Bears to an improbable 16-13 Colonial Athletic Association football victory over 14th-ranked New Hampshire at Alfond Stadium.
“After what had happened earlier in the game with the missed field goal — the extra point was my fault as well — I was just very excited to have my teammates get me in position for a third chance,” Harvey said. “That’s probably the only thrid chance I’ll ever get in my life.”
UMaine scored on its final possession of regulation to tie the game, then came up with a special-teams gem to force the extra period.
“We hung in there,” said UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove. “I don’t think there’s anything artistic about his at all … I think at the end we made some plays, which we hadn’t been doing. We found a way to win, which we hadn’t been doing.”
The victory for the Bears (2-3, 1-1 CAA) gives UMaine the possession of the spoils of the rivalry, the Brice-Cowell Musket, a flintlock rifle made in the 1700s.
“We owed it to a lot of people to give it everything we had and it felt good to see the looks on the faces when the clock hit :00 and we had more points than they had,”said Brent Rice, whose blocked field goal on the last play of regulation helped bring the musket back to Orono for the first time since 2002, ending UNH’s seven-game win streak in the series.
Harvey admitted he received more than his share of opportunities to prove himself — in front of 6,531 partisan fans.
The sophomore place-kicker, who missed last season with a hip injury, came up short on a 46-yard field-goal attempt midway through the first quarter. After UMaine’s first touchdown, he lined a low PAT kick that was blocked.
UMaine won the overtime coin toss and elected to go on defense first. NCAA overtime rules give each team the ball at the 25-yard line and the possession ends with a touchdown, field goal, turnover or failure to get a first down.
The Wildcats’ possession lasted only two plays, as safety Jerron McMillian intercepted an R.J. Toman pass to put the Bears in the driver’s seat.
In spite of Harvey’s early struggles, Cosgrove set up a field-goal attempt to win it.
“That was the command from me to upstairs (to offensive coordinator Kevin Bourgoin), ‘let’s run the football, I believe the kid will kick the field goal,’ Cosgrove said.
UMaine’s last run play went right, instead of to the middle of the field. Harvey was forced to operate from what Cosgrove called “The Harvey Hash,” on the right side of the field, a spot from which he has had difficulty.
Harvey’s low kick nonetheless sealed the deal.
“The last kicker to make an important kick here was Chris Binder in 1995 (the overtime game-winner in a 24-21 victory over Massachusetts in Orono),” Cosgrove pointed out.
The Bears again struggled with penalties, drawing a season-high 13 flags for 120 yards. Even so, there were none after a holding call five minutes into the second half.
New Hampshire (2-3, 0-2 CAA) extended its lead to 13-6 with 2:47 left in regulation when MacArthur lined a 47-yard field goal off Rice’s hand, off the crossbar and through the uprights.
UMaine responded after Des Randall’s 22-yard kickoff return put the ball at the UM 43-yard line. Quarterback Warren Smith (19-for-28, 253 yards) completed five passes on the drive.
The biggest came on fourth-and-nine from the UNH 16 when tight end Derek Buttles made a leaping catch in the back, righthand corner of the end zone with two defenders covering him.
“I just threw it and trusted Derek Buttles and he went up and made a great play,” Smith said.
Harvey’s PAT made it 13-13 with 1:12 left.
The Wildcats answered, sparked by a 39-yard throw from R.J. Toman (26-for-38, 304 yds.) to Sean Cullen to the UM 14 with 18.2 seconds to play. UNH ran the ball to the middle of the field to set up a field goal.
Cosgrove called a timeout to give MacArthur another 30 seconds to ponder his task.
This time, MacArthur’s kick was low and Rice, a backup defensive tackle, swatted it down with his forearm.
“The whole defense got together,” Rice said. “(We said), we’ve all got to give it our all. There’s no option to lose, there’s no option not to go block this.”
UMaine might have avoided the drama if it had scored earlier in the fourth. However, Smith’s handoff to Jared Turcotte (21 carries, 71 yds.) missed the mark on second-and-goal from the 4 went awry when Smith was tripped up by one of his linemen.
The fumble went through the end zone, resulting in a touchback and giving UNH the ball.
“We showed a lot of character coming back and overcoming that,” Smith said.
Linebacker Vinson Givans was among the defensive stalwarts with 12 tackles and an interception. Cornerback Dominic Cusano made nine stops, while redshirt freshman linebacker Shawn Bodtmann posted an interception and forced a fumble.
Terrance Fox topped UNH receivers with eight catches for 89 yards and a score. Hugo Souza racked up 13 tackles.
The Bears grabbed a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter when Derrick Johnson’s 24-yard end-around set up Jeff Falvey’s grab of a high Smith pass in the end zone. Harvey’s low PAT kick was blocked.
John Greer’s interception put UNH in position for MacArthur’s 32-yard field goal with 3:10 left in the half.
New Hampshire 0-3-7-3-0—13
Me—Falvey 11 pass from Smith (kick failed), 13:25.
UNH—FG MacArthur 32, 3:10.
UNH—Fox 5 pass from Toman (MacArthur kick), 10:54.
UNH—FG MacArthur 47, 2:47.
Me—Buttles 16 pass from Smith (Harvey kick), 1:12.
Me—FG Harvey 37.