ORONO, Maine — It’s too early to call it a season-changer, but Saturday’s 26-3 Colonial Athletic Association victory over No. 15 Delaware has provided the University of Maine football team with a much-needed boost of confidence.
The Black Bears were relentless on defense and opportunistic as an offensive unit while ending a two-game losing streak.
“We’ll take any momentum we can get,” said junior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski, who threw for 176 yards and three touchdowns on 12-for-18 accuracy.
“It’s a good start. We’re glad it’s under our belts, but we have to take a big win like this and we’re going to go back to work again,” he added.
UMaine (2-3 overall, 1-1 CAA) heads back on the road Saturday (7 p.m. kickoff) for a conference game against 17th-ranked Towson University (2-3, 1-1 CAA) in Maryland.
UMaine demonstrated its ability to play together in all facets of the game after a couple of spotty efforts in losses to Albany and Villanova.
“We played certainly our best game of the season to this point — offense, defense and special teams,” Cosgrove said.
The defense wasn’t necessarily smothering, but it didn’t surrender the kind of big plays that had plagued it in recent weeks.
Behind nine sacks of quarterback Trent Hurley, the Blue Hens incurred a loss of 111 yards. That came out of Delaware’s rushing total, which was a net 47.
Junior defensive end Mike Cole registered five sacks to spearhead a defense that also came up with two fumbles inside the UMaine 25-yard line.
“They ran a lot of plays,” Cosgrove said of Delaware’s 82-53 advantage. “We kind of bent but didn’t break, and the sacks really created some favorable down-and-distance situations for us throughout the course of the day.”
Cole, who leads the Football Championship Subdivision with seven sacks, finished with nine tackles. He has been named the CAA Defensive Player of Week and was recognized as The Sports Network’s National Co-Defensive Player of the Week.
“You saw him at his best,” Cosgrove said. “Sometimes, he gets himself in a one-on-one situation, and he’s got a relentless pursuit of the quarterback.”
However, Cole left the game in the fourth quarter with an apparent injury to his left knee.
While no official word on his condition has been released, Cole reportedly did not receive good news about the knee.
Decloux makes debut
Place-kicker Sean Decloux made his collegiate debut Saturday at Delaware.
The freshman from Ottawa, Ontario, was pressed into service when senior Brian Harvey suffered an injury and was not able to play. Harvey has been plagued in the past by hamstring issues.
Decloux converted all three of his extra-point kicks and went 1-for-2 on field goals. He hit a 34-yarder in the fourth quarter after having a kick of the same length blocked in the first quarter.
Decloux also averaged 58.6 yards on five kickoffs with two touchbacks.
Bears shuffle O-line again
The Black Bears were victorious at Delaware despite having to shuffle their offensive line group for the second week in a row.
All-CAA right guard Chris Howley was unable to play because of an injury, which meant redshirt freshman Bruce Johnson was in the lineup for the second straight week.
Johnson had stepped in at center against Villanova after senior Garret Williamson left the game with an ankle injury in the first quarter. This time, with Williamson back, Johnson lined up at right guard to replace Howley.
“Bruce has really been a savior for us as a center-guard,” said Cosgrove, who pointed to Johnson’s effort and toughness, in spite of some growing pains.
“We moved Bruce to the guard spot this week just because he’s our next-best lineman and has been working at both of those positions,” he added. “I can’t say enough about him. He certainly was in a whirlwind out there at times.”
UMaine rushed for 155 yards, including 103 from sophomore tailback David Hood, passed for 176 yards with no interceptions and only gave up one sack.
UM hoop teams plan event
UMaine students will have the chance to show off their basketball skills, meet the Black Bear teams and enjoy pizza and beverages during Friday night’s “Shoot, Slam and Shuffle” event.
The event is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. at UMaine’s New Balance Student Recreation Center with Knockout for a Cause, a fundraiser for Spruce Run sponsored by the Theta Chi fraternity. UMaine students must register for the game of “knockout,” which will produce finalists who will compete against the varsity athletes.
Student who wish to show off their slam-dunking skills can enter that competition, which will send winners on to take on members of the UMaine men’s team.
The Black Bear women’s and men’s teams will be introduced at 9 p.m., with the contests to follow. The players will close out the festivities with a “dance-off.”