NEWARK, Del. — Looking back at the first half of the 2010 season, the University of Maine football team agonized over allowing potentially winnable games to slip away.
Saturday afternoon, the Black Bears’ propensity for inopportune mistakes prevented them from making a run at the No. 2-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Delaware bottled up the UMaine offense and the Blue Hens opened up their offense with a potent passing attack on their way to a convincing 26-7 Colonial Athletic Association victory at Delaware Stadium.
The Black Bears (2-4, 1-2 CAA) committed two turnovers and a critical penalty that led directly to Delaware points – 16 of them — prohibiting themselves from seriously challenging the Blue Hens.
“We just continue to make mistakes that are our own doing,” said UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove. “It’s hard. Delaware’s an outstanding football team and to come into a place like this and get down early was not in the plan, and that’s what happened.”
Delaware (6-0, 3-0 CAA) continued its quest for the league title and a berth in the NCAA’s FCS playoffs by controlling play.
The Blue Hens went into the game with the CAA’s most prolific run game, but instead relied heavily on its passing attack to move the football against the Bears.
“They were a real tough run defense, and it was good to get the ball in the air,” said Delaware senior quarterback Pat Devlin. “Confidence-wise, it was great to get the ball in the air almost 40 times.”
Devlin, a transfer from Penn State, completed 20 of 36 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown. He was not intercepted and appeared comfortable in the pocket.
“Against a good offense like that, you can’t give a quarterback too much time or he’s going to find open receivers,” said UMaine junior linebacker Donte Dennis, who piled up a game-best 13 tackles. “We made too many mistakes against a good team.”
Delaware still managed good balance as CAA rushing leader Andrew Pierce managed 96 yards on 26 carries. That helped the hosts outgain the Bears 430-237.
UMaine quarterback Warren Smith wasn’t ultra-sharp, but completed 19 of 29 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
Junior tailback Jared Turcotte of Lewiston netted 55 yards, on only 11 carries, and eclipsed the 1,000-yard career rushing mark in the first quarter. Senior wideout Tyrell Jones made five receptions for 56 yards.
The Hens scored their first touchdown on defense midway through the first quarter. Jones caught a short pass on the left side at the UMaine 10-yard line, only to have the ball stripped by Anthony Bratton. Paul Worrilow scooped it up and raced 11 yards for a score.
The PAT kick missed.
Delaware then energized the announced crowd of 19,523 on its next possession, marching 67 yards on 10 plays — with some inadvertent help by the Bears.
Mike Perry lined up for a 41-yard field goal, but missed low and to the left. However, UMaine’s Steven Barker was flagged for roughing the kicker, giving UD the ball at the 11.
Two plays later, Devlin found Pierce alone in the end zone on a 10-yard scoring pass. The PAT made it 13-0 with 1:24 left in the quarter.
“We continued to be difficult on ourselves in the early part of the game — a turnover, a huge penalty, obviously gives a very good football team a chance at the beginning of the game,” Cosgrove said.
UMaine hung around with the help of Omar Jacobs, who blocked a 32-yard field-goal attempt by Perry in the second quarter. Even so, Delaware manufactured a 59-yard drive that culminated in Perry’s 30-yarder, making it 16-0 with 3:21 to play in the half.
The Bears went into hurry-up mode and put together their first serious offensive threat. UMaine moved to the UD 18 with 1:02 to play, but a Smith pass to the left flat went through Derek Session’s hands and was intercepted by Tyrone Grant.
He returned it 47 yards to help set up Perry’s 22-yard field goal that made it a three-score game with 10.9 seconds remaining in the half.
“That was kind of a killer because we were trying to get some points going into halftime and then they end up getting three points out of it,” Smith said, “so instead of a (16-7) game, it turned out to be a 19-0 game going into half.”
Delaware made a statement, opening the second half with an 11-play scoring drive that culminated in Pierce’s 3-yard run. Perry’s kick made it 26-0.
“That’s who they are,” Cosgrove said, “a big, physical football team, and they answered the bell well — nice drive.”
UMaine responded with its only scoring drive of the game, sparked by Barker’s 51-yard kickoff return to the UD 39. Smith found Delaware native Justin Perillo alone in the end zone on a 2-yard TD toss.
Brian Harvey’s PAT made it 26-7 with 4:44 to go.
The Bears had a chance to get a little closer, but Turcotte fumbled at the UD 24 after catching a pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“When it comes down to it, we’ve just got to make plays in certain situations where that determines the game,” Smith said.
“We’re just killing ourselves with turnovers again,” he added.