June 23, 2018
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Fast start propels University of Maine football team past William & Mary

By Mike Barnes, Special to the BDN

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — The University of Maine football team claimed its third win of the year Saturday, holding off the College of William and Mary for a 24-10 Colonial Athletic Association win at Zable Stadium.

UMaine improves to 3-5, 2-3 in the CAA, while the Tribe falls to 2-6 and 1-4.

The Black Bears reeled off 17 straight points to start the game, and managed to subdue a second-half Tribe comeback attempt with a commanding 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

Junior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski lofted the ball up for sophomore wide receiver Damarr Aultman, who leapt up, hauled in the pass and stayed inbounds for what proved to be the clinching score.

“I came out after that last touchdown and gave Damarr a big hug,” Wasilewski said. “I owed him big time after that, he made a great catch. I put the ball a little high, and he made an NFL-type catch and he got that foot down.”

Aultman, who caught another touchdown pass earlier in the game, and the Black Bears offense moved the ball effectively against the Tribe throughout the contest. Wasilewski accounted for 229 of UMaine’s 357 total offensive yards, including 191 through the air on 19-for-24 accuracy.

He passed for three touchdowns and was intercepted once. Rickey Stevens added 10 carries for 45 yards and caught four passes for 80 yards.

The Black Bears came out of the gate quickly, scoring 17 unanswered points to open the game. A seven-yard touchdown pass from Wasilewski to senior wideout Maurice McDonald (7 catches, 43 yds.) gave the Black Bears an early 7-0 lead.

A 31-yard field goal by Sean Decloux, coupled with a 12-yard scoring toss from Wasilewski to Aultman in the second quarter, gave UMaine a sizeable first-half advantage.

“Well, last week we scored 14 straight [to open the game] and then lost, so I guess 17 is the magic number,” said UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove. “It was big for us to have that type of start to the football game, no doubt.”

As the game wore on, the Tribe slowly showed signs of life and began to press UMaine. A 26-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Raphael Ortiz to Sean Ballard gave William & Mary its first points of the day and a 31-yard John Carpenter field goal less than a minute into the fourth quarter cut the Black Bears’ lead to 17-10.

UMaine answered with a touchdown drive of its own, a 3-yard pass from Wasilewski to Aultman, effectively ending any hopes of a Tribe comeback.

While the offense provided points at opportune times, Cosgrove was satisfied with his squad’s defensive performance.

“I thought we bent and didn’t break,” Cosgrove said. “We aren’t going to shut everybody out, but if you can hold a team in the CAA to 10 points, that’s a good day of work, so I’m pleased with our defense.”

UMaine held the Tribe in check, limiting dual threat quarterback Ortiz to an 11-for-23 performance for 142 yards, a touchdown and an interception. UMaine frequently swarmed the line of scrimmage, pressuring Ortiz and limiting the effectiveness of the Tribe’s stable of running backs.

In addition to the Black Bears’ work at the line, they notched a pair of interceptions, one by senior cornerback Darlos James in the third quarter, and another by junior safety Jamal Clay, who intercepted Tribe backup quarterback Brent Caprio late in the fourth.

Troy Russell and Troy Eastman made seven tackles each for the Bears.

After a pair of tough losses against CAA powerhouses Towson and New Hampshire, Wasilewski was impressed with how his squad responded and hopes to see its gritty mentality continue for the rest of the season.

“I think we proved that we are still playing to win,” Wasilewski said. “We’re not the type of team that’s just going to lay down [and] we talked about being a tough team. If there is anything that we are going to be about this season, it’s going to be about being tough and never giving up on anything.”

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