Kenny Doak became the University of Maine’s first full scholarship kicker a year ago and he has earned that scholarship the last two weekends.
For the second consecutive Saturday, Doak kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired, this time a 39-yarder that gave the Black Bears a dramatic 38-36 Colonial Athletic Association victory over the University of Rhode Island at Meade Stadium in Kingston, Rhode Island.
“I just wanted to win it for the guys. Stuff wasn’t going our way today but it isn’t over until the whistle blows,” Doak said. “I knew I would get the opportunity.
“To put it though for everybody is cool,” he added.
Doak’s 52-yard field goal, which tied the school record, beat Villanova 13-10 a week earlier.
The Black Bears (4-2, 3-0 CAA), who trailed 30-14 early in the second half, took a 35-30 lead on quarterback Chris Ferguson’s 9-yard run with 2:28 remaining.
But the Rams (4-2, 2-1 CAA), aided by several Black Bear penalties — including a roughing-the-passer call on a fourth-down incompletion — strung together a 10-play, 75-yard drive. Rhode Island regained the lead 36-35 with 51 seconds left on backup quarterback Vito Priore’s 2-yard pass to Aaron Parker (9 rec., 124 yds., 2 TDs). The two-point conversion attempt failed.
UMaine was then assessed two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, so the Rams kicked off from the UMaine 35-yard line.
Rather than trying a short kick to eat up some seconds and possibly pin UMaine deep in its own end, the Rams kicked it through the end zone so the Black Bears took possession at their own 25-yard line.
Sophomore Ferguson, who returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury, began the drive with a 15-yard completion to Micah Wright, who alertly ran out of bounds to stop the clock.
“Somebody had to make a play, so I thought why not me?” Wright said. “They trust me enough to put me in position to make plays.”
After Ferguson (30-for-48, 278 yds., two TDs, one interception) was sacked for a 3-yard loss by Andre Bibeault, he tossed a 16-yard completion to Jaquan Blair (4 receptions, 72 yds.) to the Rhode Island 47-yard line.
Rhode Island was assessed a 5-yard illegal participation penalty and Ferguson again found Wright (10 rec., 125 yds.), this time on a 10-yard pass to the Rhode Island 32-yard line. Ferguson tossed a quick pass to running back Joe Fitzpatrick (9 att., 29 yds.) for six yards and Fitzpatrick got out of bounds at the Rhode Island 26-yard line.
Another Rhode Island illegal participation penalty moved it to the Rhode Island 21-yard line, and Ferguson ran for no gain but moved the ball to the center of the field.
UMaine called a timeout, then Doak came on and kicked his 39-yard field goal.
Ferguson said the game-winning drive was a “testament to all the work we put in and the trust I have in these guys and the offensive line. We took care of business.”
UMaine head coach Joe Harasymiak said he was proud of his team for overcoming adversity as his team was assessed 16 penalties for 197 yards.
“And we beat a really good football team,” Harasymiak said.
UMaine trailed 16-14 at halftime, but the deficit quickly grew to 30-14 in the first 5:23 of the third quarter.
A Nas Jones interception and return to the UMaine 19-yard line set up an eventual 6-yard TD run by Zoe Bryant (17 att., 59 yds.).
UMaine failed to pick up a first down on its next possession and Dorsey returned Derek Deoul’s punt 30 yards to the UMaine 30-yard line. Three plays later, Bryant plunged into the end zone from a yard out.
But the Black Bears rallied.
Ferguson capped a 12-play, 70-yard drive with a 10-yard TD pass to Devin Young, and he threw to Wright for the two-point conversion to make it 30-22 with 5:23 left in the third quarter.
Richard Carr’s interception in the fourth quarter gave UMaine the ball at the Rhode Island 39-yard line. Ferguson threw a 28-yard pass to Blair on third-and-5 to move the ball to the Rhode Island 6-yard line, and he then threw to Wright for a 6-yard score with 8:33 remaining.
His two-point pass intended for Drew Belcher was too high, leaving the Black Bears trailing by two.
Ahmere Dorsey returned the ensuing kickoff 30 yards to the Rhode Island 36-yard line, and Priore’s 17-yard pass to the Isaiah Coulter moved the ball to the UMaine 47-yard line. But Sterling Sheffield sacked Priore for a 7-yard loss and the Rams were forced to punt.
UMaine marched 76 yards in eight plays, highlighted by two 30-yard completions from Ferguson to Wright.
But Rhode Island rallied as two 15-yard, roughing-the-passer penalties and a pass interference call accounted for 45 yards, and Priore finished the drive off with his 2-yard pass to Parker.
Priore (19-for-40, 256 yds., 2 TDs, 2 INTs) was playing in place of the injured JaJuan Lawson (knee).
UMaine true freshman Daejuan Sanders had a team-high 57 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Deshawn Stevens had 12 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble for UMaine. Darrius Hart and Taji Lowe were each in on eight tackles, and Lowe had a sack.
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