The University of Maine’s football team is seeking payback.
The Husson University Eagles are looking for a win in their first NCAA Division III playoff game.
It will make for a busy afternoon of college football in the greater Bangor area as the 8-1 Eagles will host 9-0 Massachusetts Institute of Technology at noon before the Black Bears entertain archrival New Hampshire, the nation’s No. 1 team, at 3:30 p.m.
New Hampshire (9-1, 7-0 Colonial Athletic Association) at Maine (5-5, 4-3), Alfond Stadium, Orono: Maine senior cornerback Axel Ofori and senior wide receiver Damarr Aultman don’t have to be reminded about last season when UNH ruined the CAA champion Black Bears’ aspirations to go undefeated in the conference with a 24-3 triumph in Durham, New Hampshire, and then ousted them from the FCS playoffs two weeks later in Orono 41-27.
UNH brings a nine-game winning streak to Orono.
UNH has won 11 of the last 12 games against Maine.
“The fact they’re the number one team in the country, it’s a big rivalry and on what they did to us last year is all in our heads right now. It’ll definitely motivate us,” said Ofori.
“We have a three-game winning streak so our heads are up right now,” said Aultman. “It’s our last game, we’re playing our best football and we have the opportunity to knock off the No. 1 team on the national stage.”
The game is being televised on the NBC Sports Network.
Aultman said the Black Bears “can’t shoot ourselves in the foot. UNH has a very high-powered offense and a very sound defense. We can’t have turnovers or stupid penalties.”
UNH’s offense, which has averaged 38.7 points per game, features quarterback Sean Goldrich (121-for-170, 1,540 yards, 12 TDs, 2 interceptions); wide receiver R.J. Harris (74 catches-1,158 yards, 13 TDs) and running back Jimmy Owens (87 carries-521 yards).
Linebackers Akil Anderson (55 tackles) and Shane McNeely (54) headline the Wildcat defense along with DE Cody Muller (5.5 sacks). Muller is backed up by Calais native Cam Shorey (13 tackles) and they are both coached by defensive line coach Peter McCarty, a former Bangor High School football star.
Maine has been led by improving freshman quarterback Drew Belcher (66-127, 648 yards, 3 TDs), freshman RB Nigel Beckford (104-447, 5 TDs), Aultman (46-498 yards) and WR Jordan Dunn (29-253). The defense has been paced by linebackers Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga (83 tackles) and Cabrinni Goncalves (66), along with DE Trevor Bates (52, 4.5 sacks, 3 interceptions). Linebacker Zach Hume leads the team with 5.5 sacks.
MIT (9-0) at Husson (8-1), Saturday, Winkin Complex, Bangor: The Eagles are going to have to find a way to contain an Engineer offense that averaged 40.3 points and 472.2 yards per game thanks to New England Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year Justin Wallace, who rushed for 1,420 yards, guard and Offensive Lineman of the Year Elliot Tobin, QB Peter Williams (137-214, 17,61 yards, 18 TDS) and WR Brad Goldsberry (36 catches-417 yards, 536 rushing yards).
“They have (talented) athletes at every position. It will be a matter of can they handle our physicality,” said Husson linebacker Ellis Throckmorton.
Husson free safety Stephan Dance (62 tackles, 2 interceptions) was the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Throckmorton had a team-high 78 tackles including 18.5 for losses. Defensive back Kenny Sweet had five interceptions and Husson’s defense allowed a league-low 268.2 yards per game.
Husson’s offense features conference Rookie of the Year running back John Smith (174 rushes-1,144 yards, 13 TDs), quarterback Joe Seccareccia (112-222, 1,359 yards, 12 TDs) and receivers Deon Wiggins (30-433) and Ryan Stroud (26-364). MIT’s defense has been led by linebackers Cameron Wagar (76 tackles), Anthony Emberley (70, 4 sacks) and Mitch Turley (52), the league’s defensive rookie of the year.