June 20, 2018
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Boston College handles UMaine in Black Bears’ football opener

By Pete Warner, BDN Staff

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The University of Maine looked very much like a team playing its season opener Saturday afternoon.

Against a program from the Atlantic Coast Conference, in the Football Bowl Subdivision made up of the top teams in the country, the Black Bears’ shortcomings were magnified.

Boston College held UMaine’s offense in check and came up with four turnovers on its way to a 34-3 victory at muggy, windy Alumni Field.

In the wake of a season-opening loss to Miami, the Eagles took advantage of their superior talent to register a convincing win in front of nearly 31,000 fans.

UMaine, which plays in the Colonial Athletic Association at the Football Championship Subdivision, had its collective hands full.

“What you saw out there is what’s to be expected,” said UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove.

“They’re a good football team. They’re very physical,” Cosgrove said. “I thought our guys stood up and competed.”

Boston College (1-1) didn’t run roughshod over UMaine. However, the Eagles overcame a shaky start that included two fumbles and scored 17 unanswered second-quarter points to build a 17-3 halftime advantage.

BC ended the suspense during a span of 2:17 late in the third quarter behind two interceptions and Spiffy Evans’ 82-yard punt return for a TD.

“They didn’t turn the thing [the ball] over. We did and we hurt ourselves by doing that,” Cosgrove said.

Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig, who passed for 441 yards against Miami, completed only 16 of 32 passes for 219 yards. With strong protection from the offensive line, he threw for three touchdowns and was not intercepted.

UMaine junior end MIke Cole did register two sacks among five tackles and forced a fumble.

“They’re big, strong, athletic,” Cole said. “Our mentality this week was just get lined up, come off the ball as hard as we can, work the moves that we’ve been taught, and see what happens.”

BC accounted for a modest 385 total yards after amassing 537 against Miami. UMaine emerged with a slight edge in time of possession, which helped keep the ball out of Rettig’s hands.

The Bears got on the board first, after Cole stripped the ball from Rolandan Finch (17 carries, 90 yds.) and Darlos James returned it eight yards to the BC 10. That led to Brian Harvey’s 19-yard field goal with 4:13 left in the first quarter.

The momentum turn came after BC’s Tahj Kimball fumbled at the goal line and the ball hit the pylon, which was ruled a touchback.

“I have a new bald spot in the back of my head,” quipped BC coach Frank Spaziani. “It was an inauspicious start.”

Maine’s Jeff Ondish followed with a wind-aided 60-yard punt downed by Mike Mangiarelli at the 1-yard line. The second fumble, by Finch, occurred only three plays later and led to the field goal.

It took another nine minutes before the Eagles offense, with a stiff wind at its back, began to establish a rhythm. BC drove 62 yards on nine plays, capped by Rettig’s 4-yard TD toss to Evans. Nate Freese’s PAT made it 7-3 with 7:09 left in the half.

UMaine then failed to move the ball and handed it to the Eagles at the 10-yard line when Ondish mishandled the punt snap and was forced to fall on it.

Two plays later, Rettig hit Johnathan Coleman on a 9-yard strike to the back righthand corner of the end zone and Freese’s kick extended the lead to 14-3 at the 5:26 mark.

“You can’t do that, not against an ACC team,” Cosgrove said.

The Bears’ failure to move the football — they managed only three first downs in the half — cost them in the last three minutes of the half. Rettig took BC from its own 42 to the UMaine 22 before Freese booted a 39-yard field goal with 1:01 to play, putting the Eagles on top 17-3.

The Bears opened the second half by going 39 yards on 13 plays. However, an ineligible receiver downfield penalty negated a 17-yard completion to the 2-yard line and Harvey missed a 43-yard field-goal try past the right upright.

“We’re going to cringe at some things that we didn’t take advantage of, and poor play,” Cosgrove said.

Things soon got out of hand.

UMaine junior Marcus Wasilewski (20-for-42, 134 yds.), who made his starting debut at quarterback, was intercepted at the Bears’ 18 when Jim Noel wrestled a 50-50 ball from wide receiver Maurice McDonald (6 catches, 37 yds.) at the UM 18.

The defense limited BC to Freese’s 20-yard field goal.

Three plays later, Ondish boomed a 63-yard punt fielded at the 18 by Evans, who burst through the middle for an 82-yard scoring jaunt that made it 27-3 with 2:28 left in the quarter.

“I love giving my team that extra spark because once I scored, everyone was really into the game,” Evans offered.

Barely a minute later, Manuel Asprilla ran under an overthrown pass by Wasilewski and returned it 27 yards. Rettig hooked up with Alex Amidon ( 6 catches, 99 yds.) on a 32-yard TD toss on the next play as the Eagles put it out of reach.

Tailback David Hood led the UMaine ground game with 21 carries for 64 yards. Senior linebacker Donte Dennis, in his first game since 2010, racked up 13 tackles.

The Bears went 3-for-18 on third down, but Wasilewski expects to benefit from the experience.

“To get the looks we got, to play against the guys at this level, that’s only going to make us better,” he said. “We’ll take the mistakes we made [Saturday] and take it for what it’s worth and move on.”

UMaine plays a nonleague game Saturday at Bryant University in Rhode Island.

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