It was a frustrating afternoon for the University of Maine football team during its 17-5 loss to Football Bowl Subdivision team Central Michigan on Saturday in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
The stout Black Bear defense held the Chippewas (1-2) to just 177 total yards and 12 first downs.
But UMaine (2-1) lost starting quarterback Chris Ferguson to an apparent shoulder injury midway through the first quarter and self-destructed with penalties and mistakes.
UMaine of the Football Championship Subdivision was whistled for 11 penalties worth 113 yards and managed only one Kenny Doak field goal on four trips inside the CMU 30-yard line.
An interception thrown by redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Robinson set up Central Michigan’s first touchdown, Doak had a field-goal attempt blocked and the Black Bears failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the second quarter when the game was scoreless.
“Our discipline sucked. We took too many penalties,” said UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak. “We had a good effort. Any time you hold an FBS team under 200 yards and you outgain them by 100 (265-177), you figure you have a chance to win the game. And we did. But we didn’t execute and they did. Give credit to them.”
“This was a tough one to eat because we knew we could have won the game. But the penalties killed us,” said UMaine senior linebacker Sterling Sheffield.
Junior quarterback Tommy Lazzaro ran five yards for a game-opening score in the second quarter and Ryan Tice’s 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half staked Central Michigan to a 10-0 lead.
Doak’s 38-yard field goal with 3:24 left in the third period pulled UMaine within 10-3 but Lazzaro tossed a five-yard TD pass to JaCorey Sullivan just 35 seconds into the fourth quarter to expand the lead to 17-3.
UMaine defensive back Richard Carr blocked a punt and it rolled out of the end zone with 6:23 remaining to supply the Black Bears with a safety.
Lazzaro completed 7 of 16 passes for 82 yards and a TD. He was intercepted once and sacked three times. He also ran for a team-high 44 yards on 14 carries. Malik Fountain had a team-high 10 tackles and an interception.
Ferguson was 3-for-4 for 21 yards (1 sack) before being injured and Robinson, in his college debut, wound up 16-for-32 for 162 yards. He was intercepted twice and sacked five times.
Jefferson gained a game-high 64 yards on 11 carries and Jaquan Blair and Devin Young each had five receptions with Blair’s covering 57 yards and Young’s good for 38 yards.
Sheffield made 10 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery for UMaine and Deshawn Stevens posted eight tackles and an interception. Jamehl Wiley added seven tackles.
UMaine had a glorious scoring opportunity with 12:29 left in the first half with a nine-play, 49-yard drive to the CMU 1. Robinson completed passes of 16 yards to Earnest Edwards and 12 yards to Young.
After a Jefferson run to the 1, UMaine quickly got to the line of scrimmage but Central Michigan called timeout and brought in some new personnel.
“We already had a play called [a quarterback sneak] but then they called a timeout,” Harasymiak said.
Instead, Joe Fitzpatrick’s run was stopped for no gain by linebacker Alex Briones.
Harasymiak said Central Michigan defense got too much penetration as evidenced by that play and six sacks, including four by defensive end Mike Danna.
“We’ve got to do a better job protecting our quarterback,” said Harasymiak.
A facemask penalty helped stall UMaine’s next possession, which ended
when DaQuan Jamison intercepted a Robinson overthrow, returned it 24 yards and UMaine was tagged with a 15-yard penalty at the end of the play.
Central Michigan, aided by a UMaine pass interference penalty, capitalized as Lazzaro scored on a 5-yard run.
Tice swelled the lead shortly after UMaine took over on its own 8 with 1:45 left in the half. A personal foul penalty negated a first down and a 35-yard punt David Gelb was returned 15 yards by Jamil Sabbagh to set up the field goal.
UMaine’s only scoring drive came in the third period when it marched 67 yards on 11 plays, including four carries for 38 yards by Ramon Jefferson and Robinson’s 14-yard scramble.
On third-and-two at the CMU 21, Fitzpatrick was stopped for no gain and Doak came on and kicked the field goal.
But Central Michigan answered swiftly by marching 80 yards on eight plays aided by personal foul and pass interference penalties.
Facing a third-and-17 at the UMaine 28, Lazzaro hooked up with 6-foot-7 Tony Poljan — formerly the starting QB — for a 23-yard completion.
On the next play, Lazzaro threw to Sullivan for the TD that made it 17-3.
Holding penalties on UMaine’s next two drives proved costly and resulted in Gelb punts.
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