The University of Maine continues its quest for the Colonial Athletic Association championship and an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff spot, while Husson University of Bangor and Maine Maritime Academy of Castine try to get back on the winning track in Saturday’s games involving Maine college football teams.
MAINE Black Bears (6-1) at Villanova Wildcats (1-7), 3:30 p.m., Villanova Stadium, Villanova, Pa.: Motivated by their ability to remain atop the CAA standings, the Bears hope to avoid a letdown after another thrilling come-from-behind victory last week at Richmond.
Coach Jack Cosgrove’s team (4-0 CAA) can take the first step toward FCS postseason qualification by earning its seventh Division I victory of the season. UMaine has won five in a row, including three over top-20 opponents.
Villanova has dropped four straight, each to a team that is in this week’s top 20. The Bears aren’t looking past the Wildcats.
“They’re Villanova and they came up here and embarrassed us last year,” said UMaine senior quarterback Warren Smith. “We can’t be happy about it all right now. We’ve got to stay hungry and be humble about it.”
The UMaine defense encounters a Villanova offense that has been among the least productive in the FCS ranks this season. The Wildcats rank No. 119 out of 120 in scoring (14.1 points per game) and check in at No. 115 in total offense (269.3 yards per game), including 106th passing (149.4 ypg).
“They went from being the most experienced team in the league to the least experienced,” Cosgrove said. “That’s where their issues come, because they’ve made mistakes, turnovers, penalties. You can see they’re very talented.”
UMaine ranks 29th in FCS total defense (327.3 ypg) and is 25th in scoring defense (21.0 ppg) and seventh in pass efficiency defense (104.0). The Bears also are 14th in the country with a 1.14 turnover margin.
‘Nova’s top run threats are Lawrence Doss (29.6 ypg) and Austin Medley (34.2 ypg, 2 TDs), while Dustin Thomas (42-for-79, 402 yds., 2 TDs, 6 interceptions) and Chris Polony (25-for-47, 193, 1 TD, 3 INTs) are trying to earn playing time at quarterback.
Dorian Wells has racked up 32 catches for 340 yards and three TDs.
UMaine counters with safeties Jerron McMillian (52 tackles, 1 INT) and Trevor Coston (51 tackles, 4 INTs), linebacker Vinson Givans (51 tackles, 2 INTs) and end Mike Cole (24 tackles, 6 sacks).
The Bears will go after the Wildcats’ porous defense with a well-balanced offense that features Smith (157-for-241, 1,752 yds., 12 TDs, 4 INTs), tailback Pushaun Brown (92.6 ypg, 6 TDs; 9 receptions, 102 yds., 1 TD), wideout Maurice McDonald (45-446-4) and tight end Justin Perillo (33-342-3).
UMaine, which ranks 29th in passing offense (250.3), hopes to exploit a defense led by linebacker Dillon Lucas (71 tackles), safety Ronnie Akins (66) and cornerback James PItts (44).
“Eventually, they’ll stop making mistakes and eventually it’s going to be somebody paying the price,” Cosgrove concluded. “We’re hoping that’s a couple years from now.”
BRIDGEWATER State Bears (5-2) at Maine Maritime Academy Mariners (4-3), noon, Ritchie Field, Castine: The Mariners are out to stop a two-game skid against the Bears in a New England Football Conference contest.
MMA is coming off a 34-6 loss at Massachusetts Maritime during which it turned the ball over nine times, including seven fumbles.
The Mariners will try to hold onto the ball to maximize their option offense, which features sophomore fullback Ian Champeon of Dover-Foxcroft (108.6 ypg), senior quarterback Matthew Rende of Augusta (92.4 ypg) and senior halfback Nick Bourassa of Jay (73.9 ypg).
MMA still ranks sixth in Division III and No. 1 in the NEFC, averaging 325.7 rushing yards per outing.
Bridgewater State counters with a squad that ranks sixth in the nation, limiting opponents to 218.6 ypg and is 14th in scoring defense (12.0 ppg). The unit is led by Alex Monteiro (46 tackles), Mike Nazzaro (36) and Paul Melicharek (34).
MMA has mustered only 20 points combined in its last two games and has allowed 76.
The defense features Alex Hermes (58 tackles), Joel Chadbourne (42) of Westbrook and Brock Lawrence (42) of Benton.
The Mariners must deal with a balanced Bridgewater State attack that has averaged 343 ypg, including 197.3 via the run. Blaise Branch (60.4 ypg, 1 TD), Mike McCarthy (52.3 ypg, 8 TDs) and Justin Fuller (43.1 ypg, 3 TDs) head the ground assault, while McCarthy has passed for 740 yards and seven scores.
SUNY Maritime Privateers (6-1) at Husson Eagles (0-7), noon, Winkin Complex, Bangor: The injury-depleted Eagles play their final home game of the season against one of the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference’s frontrunners.
Husson (0-4 ECFC) looks to halt an 11-game losing streak, while SUNY Maritime (4-0) tries to keep pace with Norwich in the league standings.
The Eagles continue to be without numerous key players, including senior safety Kyle Vanidestine of Bangor, who is out for the rest of the season with a broken hand.
Husson is among the least productive teams, statistically, in Division III. The Eagles rank last in rushing (11.4) ypg and next-to-last in total offense (158.7 ypg) and scoring offense (6.7 ppg).
The Privateers rank second in ECFC rushing (292.4 ypg) behind the duo of fullback Jamie Spanopoulos (74.5 ypg, 5 TDs) and quarterback Joe Dickey (62.2 ypg, 10 TDs).
Today’s other games: Bates (2-3) at Colby (1-4), 1 p.m.; Wesleyan (3-2) at Bowdoin (2-3), 12:30 p.m.