With their Football Championship Division playoff hopes dashed by last Saturday’s 31-17 loss in Portland to Delaware, the University of Maine Black Bears will focus on Football Bowl Subdivision foe University of Massachusetts when they visit iconic 105-year old Fenway Park at 4 p.m. Saturday..
It will be especially meaningful for the New Englanders on the UMaine roster who grew up going to Fenway Park to watch their beloved Boston Red Sox.
“It’s definitely exciting,” said UMaine senior guard Dan Burrows of Haverhill, Mass. “I have been a Red Sox fan since I was born.
“I always dreamed of being on the field, seeing what the grass feels like. I’m definitely going to take it all in,” Burrows added.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience,” said junior running back Joe Fitzpatrick from North Yarmouth, Maine. “We’re all Boston fans around here. It is such a historic field, it is going to be an experience.”
They also like the idea of facing an FBS team.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” said Burrows. “Every time you play an FBS team, it gives you a great chance to prove yourself and see what you’re all about.”
University of Maine (4-4) vs. UMass (2-7), Fenway Park, Boston, Mass., 4 p.m.: UMass is a FBS independent whose record is deceiving. The Minutemen have lost by four points at Tennessee and by 11 at Mississippi State in a game in which they were down by four with five minutes left. All of their losses have been by 11 points or less. They have averaged 29.1 points per game and quarterbacks Andrew Ford and Ross Comis have completed 61.8 percent of their passes for 2,593 yards and 17 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Marquis Young has carried the ball 127 times for 681 yards including 39-for-324 over his last three games. Adam Breneman (48 catches-612 yards) and Andy Isabella (43-689) are their top receivers and the defense is led by linebacker Bryton Barr (84 tackles) and end Da’Sean Downey (49 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 5 sacks).
UMaine needs to learn to finish games. UMaine has outscored its opponents 23-6 in the final quarter of its wins while being outscored 38-6 in its losses. QB Chris Ferguson has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,576 yards with 14 TDs and nine interceptions. Sophomore Josh Mack continues to lead the Colonial Athletic Association in rushing (191 carries for 1,152 yards) and he also has 26 catches for 180 yards. Jaleel Reed has 27 catches for 367 yards and the defense has been led by linebackers Jaron Grayer (70 tackles) and Sterling Sheffield (58 tackles, 4.5 sacks) along with end Kayon Whitaker, who is second in the CAA in tackles for loss (12) and sacks (7.5). All-CAA wide receiver-punt returner Micah Wright is done for the season with a knee injury.
Mount Ida College (4-5, 3-3 ECFC) at Husson University (8-1, 6-0), noon Saturday: Husson already has captured its second straight Eastern Collegiate Football Conference title and third in four years — along with an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The Eagles also continue to maintain a lofty status in various rankings, with coach Gabby Price’s club fourth in the New England Division III poll, sixth in the NCAA East Region poll and also receiving votes for the NCAA Division III top 25 nationally.
Husson now has won six games in a row overall, 13 consecutively at the Winkin Complex on the Bangor campus and 14 straight conference outings after last week’s 63-0 win over Alfred State.
But that’s all not to say this regular-season finale against Mount Ida College of Newton, Mass., lacks meaning beyond being Senior Day for the Eagles.
“We definitely want to come out, complete the job and sweep the conference,” said Husson junior quarterback Cory Brandon. “We’re definitely excited (about the NCAA tourney), but we don’t want to look past anybody. We want to get through this week and then we’ll lock in our focus on next week.”
Mount Ida outscored Anna Maria 58-41 last Saturday, with quarterback Michael Pina (19 of 29 passing, 315 yards, 3 TDs, 55 rushing yards) earning ECFC Offensive Player of the Week honors while defensive back DeSean Hart earned similar accolades on defense after returning a pass interception 100 yards for a touchdown and a fumble recovery 90 yards for another score.
“Winning last weekend and clinching that playoff berth was huge, but we’re not overlooking this week,” said senior tight end D.J. Allen of Skowhegan. “Mount Ida’s our next opponent and we want to take them on like we do every other team.
“But it is a good feeling to know that no matter the outcome we’re still going to play next week.”
Catholic University (4-5, 2-4 NEWMAC) at Maine Maritime Acad. (1-7, 1-5), noon Saturday: Maine Maritime plays its Senior Day game and final matchup of the 2017 season against Catholic University of Washington, D.C, in hopes of concluding the second half of their schedule with a 2-2 record.
The youthful Mariners were no match for the top-ranked team in New England Division III football last week, as undefeated Springfield College rushed for 549 yards en route to a 62-0 NEWMAC victory.
Catholic University has dropped three of its last four games, including last week’s 62-27 decision at Merchant Marine of Kings Point, New York. Freshman quarterback Brady Berger, making his first college start, completed 24 of 41 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns for the Cardinals.
Other Maine college games Saturday: Bates (2-6) at Hamilton (2-6), noon; Colby (0-8) at Bowdoin (0-8), 12:30 p.m.
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