December 11, 2017
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UMaine’s star cornerback OK after injury

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Ashley L. Conti | BDN | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN | BDN
University of Maine's Najee Goode (left) breaks up a pass intended for New Hampshire's Neil O'Connor during a football game at Alfond Stadium at the University of Maine in Orono.

University of Maine cornerback Najee Goode is expected to play in this week’s game at Albany despite missing the second half of last Saturday’s 51-27 win over Rhode Island due to a rib injury.

The senior was an All-Colonial Athletic Association third-team pick in 2016 and All-CAA preseason choice.

“He should be fine. But we’ll take measures to protect him,” UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak said during Monday’s weekly CAA conference call.

Goode is tied for seventh on the team in tackles with 20. He has 13 solos and seven assists with an interception and two pass break-ups.

Senior free safety DeAndre Scott’s status remains uncertain due to concussion issues that first surfaced in the season-opening 24-23 loss at New Hampshire. He did not play against Rhode Island.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Harasymiak said. “It will be a game-time decision.”

Scott has played in two games and has six tackles, including four solos, and a fumble recovery.

Senior Jason Matovu has been playing in place of Scott and has been involved in 20 tackles. He also has two breakups, an interception, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

Matovu led the team in solo tackles a year ago with 48 and he was second in total tackles with 67.

Harasymiak said the most pleasing aspect of Saturday’s Homecoming win over Rhode Island was the fact the team rallied from a 21-10 deficit.

“I was happy with the way the guys responded to adversity. They didn’t do a good job against Villanova (31-0 loss). That game got away from us,” Harasymiak said.

UMaine trailed Villanova 7-0 in the second quarter and was on the verge of tying the game only to have Villanova’s Jaquan Amos return Drew Belcher’s fumble 99 yards to expand the lead to 14-0. The Black Bears never recovered.

UMaine sophomore running back Josh Mack was chosen the CAA’s Offensive Player of the Week and redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Ferguson was the conference’s Rookie of the Week.

Mack ran for 248 yards on 30 carries, including 185 on 19 carries in the second half, and Ferguson completed 18 of 28 passes for 214 yards and five touchdowns.

Ferguson said the five TD passes is the most he has ever thrown in one game at any level.

Ferguson had thrown six interceptions and no TD passes in his two previous games while Mack was held to 22 yards on 18 carries at Villanova.

Harasymiak said UMaine established a different practice and preparation regimen for Ferguson that helped him turn in a stellar performance. And Mack displayed “more patience, didn’t rush his footwork and took time to see things.”

Mack became the first UMaine running back since 2009 to rush for at least 200 yards in two games during a season. He has 255 yards on 13 carries in the 60-12 victory over Bryant University on Sept. 9.

Harasymiak said the offensive line did a “great job blocking, especially on the perimeter” and the tight ends and receivers also blocked effectively.

A 77-yard punt return touchdown by Micah Wright, which closed out the first half and supplied UMaine with its first lead of the game, was huge according to Harasymiak. The momentum change helped settle the defense, which had allowed touchdowns on three of URI’s first four possessions.

“[Rhode Island] killed us on third down in the first half. They even converted a few third-and-longs including a third-and-22. We were OK on first and second down,” Harasymiak said. “But they were more disciplined and made some big plays in the second half.”

Rhode Island was 6-for-9 on third down in the first half and 0-for-4 in the second half.

The Black Bears (2-3, 1-3 CAA) face a rested University at Albany team on Saturday. The Great Danes (3-3, 1-2 CAA), who are coming off a bye, have won both of their home games.

A key matchup will be UMaine’s rushing attack, third best in the CAA (193.2 ypg), against Albany’s defense, which is second against the rush (89.3 ypg).

Mack leads the nation among Football Championship Subdivision rushers with 154.4 yards per game and is second in rushing yards (772) and eighth in yards per carry (6.89).

“He does a great job,” Albany head coach Greg Gattuso said. “He’s very patient and he has the speed to go the distance which I’ve witnessed in many games. It’s going to be a major challenge. He ran real well against us last year.”

 


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