Chris Treister doesn’t get on the field a lot for the University of Maine football team, but he sure knows how to make his presence felt.
The senior from Cape Elizabeth thrilled Black Bear Nation and silenced a crowd of 24,000-plus Saturday at Bridgeforth Stadium in Harrisonburg, Va., when he dove into the end zone for the game-winning points in the 19th-ranked Black Bears’ 25-24 Colonial Athletic Association overtime victory over No. 6 James Madison.
In typical Treister fashion, he calmly described the conversion play while quietly basking in the glow of UMaine’s upset road victory.
“It was pretty exciting,” said the former Portland High School star, who is the backup quarterback behind Warren Smith but handles the holding duties for extra points and field goals.
Treister, who also had deftly handled a high snap on Brian Harvey’s game-tying, 34-yard field goal with 44 seconds left in the fourth quarter, admitted he enjoyed playing the hero on the “muddle field goal” conversion play.
“It’s tough in my position, for guys that are on the sideline the whole game, to be called upon for a certain thing,” Treister said of his holding duties, “but it’s moments like this that make all the hard work and all the waiting around seem worthwhile.”
Treister obviously would prefer to be playing quarterback, too, but he nonetheless has enjoyed his role in UMaine’s 4-1 start (2-0 CAA) during his senior season.
“I’m just excited that I got a chance to contribute toward this victory,” he said. “It wasn’t just me. We played a hell of a game for four quarters and then some.”
Treister’s winning run came out of a formation that had him lined up in the “shotgun” in the middle of the field with snapper and tight end Justin Perillo, while two receivers were wide right and the other seven players formed the line on the left.
He took the snap and rolled to his right looking to throw a pass, but wound up tucking the ball and running. Treister launched himself from the 2-yard line, was hit by two defenders and went spinning into the end zone.
The play was No. 2 Saturday on ESPN’s “Plays of the Day.”
“I wasn’t letting anyone stop me, whether it was Ray Lewis (of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens) back there or anyone else,” Treister said. “I was getting in the end zone, because I knew how much it mean for this team to get a ‘W.’”
BLACK BEARS MOVING ‘UP’
UMaine’s back-to-back wins over top-six opponents (No. 5 Delaware and No. 6 James Madison), have catapulted the Bears upward in the Football Championship Subdivision national polls.
The Bears rank 12th in this week’s Sports Network/Fathead.com top 25 and also have cracked the FCS coaches poll, moving into the No. 16 position after hovering just outside the top 25 a week ago.
UMaine is among eight CAA teams that are ranked, also including New Hampshire (No. 6), Delaware (9), James Madison (13), William & Mary (16), Towson (17), Old Dominion (18) and Richmond (20) .
If the polls aren’t evidence enough of the Bears’ efforts thus far, UMaine also is sixth among FCS teams and No. 81 in all of Division I in the Sagarin power ratings, which emphasize strength of schedule.
The Bears also debuted at No. 9 last week in the Gridiron Power Index compiled by College Sporting News. That calculation is considered a top indicator of at-large selections by the NCAA.
Cosgrove downplayed the rankings on Monday’s edition of “Downtown with Rich Kimball” on WAEI (910 AM) radio in Bangor.
“It’s nice to know that it’s happening, (but you) can’t really care about it because it doesn’t mean anything until the end of the year,” he said. “It’s the success you have week to week that really counts and what we have to be focused on.”
UMaine has begun preparation’s for Saturday’s 1 p.m. homecoming game against Rhode Island (1-4) at Alfond Stadium in Orono.
INJURIES STILL PILING UP
The UMaine football team continues to contend with numerous injuries that have thinned the ranks, especially at the receiver spots.
UMaine announced last week that senior end Derek Buttles would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained Sept. 17 at Albany. On Monday, Cosgrove revealed that sophomore wide receiver Derrick Johnson, who also was hurt at Albany, is done for the season with a knee injury.
Redshirt freshman wideout Damarr Aultman also was unavailable for the JMU contest, while senior tight end Jeff Falvey continues to work his way back from offseason knee surgery.
There were a few more minor issues Saturday, including a thigh bruise sustained by senior tailback Pushaun Brown that limited his carries and a blow to the chest suffered by senior receiver Derek Session.
“Those are parts of the game and we just have to bounce back,” Cosgrove said during Monday’s CAA coaches teleconference. “We’re depleted like everybody else.”
“We didn’t lose anybody Saturday,” he added. “We’re going to have to be smart with bringing them along during the week.”