University of Maine starting quarterback Chris Ferguson, who suffered a foot injury in the second quarter of a 24-17 loss to Richmond on Oct. 12, has been lost for the season.
Ferguson, a junior, had the foot re-evaluated Monday, and it was determined that he will require surgery, according to UMaine head coach Nick Charlton.
He faces a six-month recovery period, but he is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for next season, Charlton said.
Ferguson suffered a Lisfranc injury while running a quarterback sneak.
A Lisfranc injury involves one or more of the metatarsal (toe) bones being displaced from the tarsus, which forms the upper part of the foot and the ankle.
“It is soft tissue damage, and the tissue is what holds everything in place in the foot,” UMaine head athletic trainer Ryan Taylor said. “It affects the mechanics of the foot. If it isn’t secure, it will want to dislocate or move around, so it has to be fixed.”
It is a similar injury to the one suffered by former University of Maine quarterback Warren Smith in 2009.
Ferguson, a third-year starter, is the second UMaine captain to have his season ended prematurely by injury. Junior linebacker and preseason All-American Deshawn Stevens suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in the season-opening 42-14 win over Sacred Heart.
True freshman Joe Fagnano, who threw for 445 yards and five touchdowns in his first collegiate start, Saturday’s 59-44 loss at Football Bowl Subdivision Liberty University, will be the starter the rest of the way.
Charlton said losing two captains is difficult but he feels the team is in good hands with Fagnano calling the signals.
“We feel very good about Joe. He turned in an exceptional performance. He can make all the throws, and he’s real good in the run game. He is extremely poised,” Charlton said.
UMaine has five games remaining, all Colonial Athletic Association contests, beginning with Saturday’s 1 p.m homecoming game against William & Mary.
Redshirt freshman Grant Hartley of Auburn, a Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist at Edward Little High School, and University of New Mexico transfer Jacob Hennie are Fagnano’s backups.
Hennie, a sophomore, is playing wide receiver but was a dual threat quarterback in high school.
Ferguson completed 116 of 201 passes for 1,655 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He was intercepted eight times. His 275.8 passing yards per game average ranks 20th among 124 Football Championship Subdivision schools.
Ferguson is sixth on UMaine’s career passing yardage list with 6,091.
“It was awful news to hear about Chris,” Fagnano said. “That’s our captain. He has been a big part of me adjusting to football.
“I’ve got to go out and do the best I can to try to lead this team,” Fagnano said.
Fagnano completed 25 of 37 passes at Liberty and was chosen the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week and the recipient of the New England Football Writers’ Golden Helmet Award.
On the season, he has completed 36 of 55 passes for 610 yards and six TDs with two interceptions.
Fagnano, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound native of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, will focus on continued improvement and cohesiveness with his teammates.
“We try to spread the ball around so defenses can’t zone in one guy,” Fagnano said.
He thought he adjusted well in his first start for UMaine.
“The coaching staff did a real good job preparing me overall,” he said. “The offense adjusted to me, working around me so we could make plays.”
He said believing in himself will be an important component.
“You’ve got to have trust in your guys, know they’re going to be where they have to be at the right time,” Fagnano said. “And they’ve got to trust me to put the ball in the right place at the right time.”
UMaine senior defensive end and captain Kayon Whitaker said it is going to be hard without Ferguson but he has confidence in Fagnano.
“We believe in Joe. You saw what he can do in the last game. Hopefully, we won’t miss a beat,” Whitaker said.