ORONO, Maine — University of Maine football fans were promised a fireworks display upon completion of Saturday’s Colonial Athletic Association game against Delaware.
The 23rd-ranked Black Bears delivered a show on the field with some explosions of their own.
UMaine scored 27 points in the first quarter and poured it on in the second half to register a resounding 62-28 victory over the No. 24 Blue Hens in front of 6,304 fans at Alfond Stadium.
Coach Jack Cosgrove’s Black Bears (5-1 overall, 2-0 CAA) unleashed their highest offensive output since a 62-12 win over Division II Shaw in 2006. It was the most points against a Division I opponent since a 77-24 thrashing of Morgan State in 2003.
“We asked our guys to take another step this week in terms of finding out a little bit more about ourselves and what we can do in games,” Cosgrove said.
“Mentally and physically and emotionally we were really tuned into this game,” he added.
UMaine, which has beaten Delaware three consecutive times, outgained the Blue Hens (4-2, 1-1 CAA) 602-339 in total yards, churning out 344 of those on the ground.
“Maine whipped us. Put a period at the end of it,” said first-year Delaware head coach Dave Brock.
Sophomore tailback Nigel Jones turned in his second straight 100-yard performance, netting 107 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns. Backup quarterback John Ebeling accounted for 86 yards on nine attempts and scored twice, while sophomore tailback Isaiah Jones returned from a shoulder injury to gain 82 yards on six carries.
The Bears had plenty of balance as senior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski completed 18 of 27 passes for 265 yards and three scores. Ebeling caught five balls for 97 yards, while Nigel Jones added four catches for 50 yards and a TD.
UMaine did not commit any turnovers and had two takeaways, both of which went for touchdowns.
“Everybody was taking their assignments and executing really well and it showed,” Wasilewski said.
“It was nice to see us all coming together as a team today,” he said.
On defense, UMaine virtually took away the Blue Hens’ passing attack. Sophomore end Trevor Bates of Westbrook posted 10 tackles, including 1 1/2 sacks, while redshirt freshman Chris Mulumba made 10 stops and senior linebacker Troy Eastman added eight.
Delaware QB Trent Hurley completed only 11 of 23 throws for 120 yards with a TD and an interception.
“We got good pressure, the whole D-line got good pressure. It was a great defensive effort,” Bates said.
Jalen Randolph finished with 137 yards on 15 carries and scored once, but most of the Hens’ yards came long after the outcome had been decided.
Pat Callaway sparked Delaware with 14 tackles.
The Black Bears seized the momentum with a quick-striking first quarter. It featured two touchdowns by the offense, one by the defense and another on special teams as UMaine scored 27 points in a span of six minutes, 29 seconds.
The hosts marched 66 yards on six plays on their opening drive. A wide-open Damarr Aultman made a leaping grab of a 24-yard Wasilewski pass to the end zone with only 3:37 gone to put UMaine on top for good.
The Bears got the ball back and drove 55 yards on five plays. A 21-yard completion from Wasilewski to Art Williams paved the way for Nigel Jones’ 7-yard touchdown run around right end at the 7:44 mark.
UMaine scored again, nine seconds later, on the ensuing kickoff. Cabrinni Goncalves forced Delaware returner Michael Johnson to fumble and Sherrod Baltimore scooped it and scored from 20 yards out.
“It was a huge play, momentum-wise,” Ebeling said. “We could definitely feel the momentum gaining.”
The Bears led 20-0 but Sean Decloux’s PAT kick was blocked by Derrick Saulsberry and Jordan Thomas ran it back some 85 yards to give Delaware two points.
The defense responded on the Blue Hens’ next possession when junior safety Mike Mangiarelli stepped in front of a Hurley pass and raced untouched 43 yards for another score, giving UMaine a 27-2 cushion.
There was still 4:54 remaining in the quarter.
“That’s a heck of a start and an awful difficult situation [for Delaware] to overcome,” Cosgrove said.
Delaware answered with a 72-yard march and Hurley found Johnson in the end zone as the visitors cut the deficit to 27-8.
UMaine later extended its advantage to 34-8 with a 76-yard drive punctuated by a 33-yard screen pass from Wasilewski to Nigel Jones, but Delaware scored on its last possession of the half on Hurley’s 4-yard dive, to make it 34-15 at intermission.
Cosgrove was disappointed with the second-quarter effort by his team.
“That’s the biggest challenge is coming off of that [early success], being able to be just as productive, have that same sense of urgency with every drive,” Wasilewski said.
The Black Bears buckled down and scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter, converting on three straight possessions.
Nigel Jones had a 12-yard scoring run, Wasilewski found Isaiah Jones on a 10-yard timing toss to the end zone and Ebeling bolted 29 yards for a TD that made it 55-15 late in the quarter.
“We had a great third quarter and that was very impressive to see us come out and be able to do the things we did,” Cosgrove said.
UMaine now has a bye week in preparation for its Oct. 19 homecoming game against William & Mary.