University of Maine freshman quarterback Joe Fagnano, who threw for 445 yards and five touchdowns in Saturday’s 59-44 loss to Football Bowl Subdivision team Liberty University, will get the nod again in this week’s homecoming game against William & Mary.
Fagnano, who was named the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week, made his first collegiate start at Liberty in place of injured three-year starter Chris Ferguson (foot injury). He completed 25 of 37 passes and ran for 24 yards to finish with 469 yards of total offense, the most this season by a CAA player.
Fagnano’s 445 passing yards were the most by a UMaine quarterback since 2009 and he became only the third UMaine signal-caller since 2009 to throw for five TDs in a game.
He also earned the New England Football Writers’ Association Gold Helmet Award.
UMaine head coach Nick Charlton said Ferguson was scheduled to have his foot re-evaluated on Monday but indicated that, barring a remarkable recovery by Ferguson, Fagnano will get the nod against The Tribe.
One of the most impressive aspects of Fagnano’s Saturday performance is the way he utilized all of his receivers.
Four different receivers caught at least five passes and all of them racked up 99 or more receiving yards. That group included Andre Miller of Old Town (5 receptions, 108 yards, 1 TD), Jaquan Blair (8-99-2, Earnest Edwards (6-127-2) and Devin Young (6-106).
Charlton pointed out that as well as his receivers played, they still had several dropped balls.
UMaine boasts the CAA’s No. 2 passing offense, averaging 329.3 yards per game. The Black Bears will face a William & Mary pass defense that has allowed 240.6 passing ypg, the third-most among the 12 CAA teams.
Fagnano has completed more than 65 percent of his passes (36-for-55) for 610 yards and six TDs. He has been intercepted twice. Ferguson is 116-for-201 (57.1 percent) for 1,655 yards. He has eight TD passes and eight interceptions.
“Joe is going to be an excellent player,” Charlton said. “He made a couple of mistakes early [fumble, interception] that led to points, but, other than that, to create that much offense and finish drives like he did, I’m very proud of him.”
Another positive was senior linebacker Taji Lowe, who made a game-high 11 tackles. In doing so, eclipsed 200 career tackles and has 206 in 36 games.
“He is very physical and very smart. He plays hard every day and has come a long way,” Charlton said.
However, the Black Bears continue to have major issues on defense and are allowing 31.7 points per game, the second most in the CAA. Even not counting FBS games against Georgia Southern and Liberty, UMaine has still surrendered 27.4 ppg.
They have given up an average of 370.9 yards in their seven games.
“Everyone has to do their jobs. I’ve got to really look hard at the things we’re doing,” Charlton said. “We’ve got to fix some things because we’re coming into a big stretch [of five conference games] beginning with a great William & Mary team.”
The Liberty game was a tough one on the Black Bears. Charlton said UMaine suffered 19 in-game injuries against Liberty, an unusually high number. But he said most of those players will be available on Saturday.
Junior place-kicker Kenny Doak suffered an ankle injury at Liberty and his status is listed as day to day, Charlton said.
Doak has been inconsistent kicking field goals, making seven of 12, but he has converted all 21 extra points. Freshman Cameron Carson replaced him in the second half at Liberty and converted two extra points. He has yet to attempt a field goal.