Injured University of Maine quarterback Chris Ferguson said he gets asked if he is happy that true freshman backup Joe Fagnano is playing as well as he has been while filling in for him.
“I’m jacked up for him, honestly,” said Ferguson, a three-year starter who has been lost for the season after undergoing foot surgery.
“I love it. I see the work that goes into it since [training] camp. We’ve been getting him ready. He’s a playmaker. Even if he makes a mistake, he can make the play right. He can still make a positive play out of whatever goes on. That’s the best thing [about] him right now. He’s playing lights out. He’s playing with his mind off and letting his abilities take over.”
University of Maine (4-5, 2-3 CAA) at Elon (4-5, 3-3), Saturday, 2 p.m., Rhodes Stadium, Elon, North Carolina: Fagnano will lead the CAA’s best passing attack (315.2 yards per game) against Elon’s fourth-best pass defense (210.4 passing yards allowed per game) and redshirt senior cornerback Greg Liggs Jr., who leads the nation with seven interceptions.
Fagnano has completed 66.3 percent (63-for-95) of his passes for 1,116 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has been intercepted twice.
UMaine has scored 105 points and averaged 479 yards of total offense per game in Fagnano’s three starts.
Elon is coming off a 31-29 five-overtime loss to William & Mary, the longest football game in school history.
UMaine is seeking its third straight win and will have to finish its season with victories to keep its slim playoff hopes alive. UMaine hosts the University of Rhode Island next weekend before concluding its schedule at the University of New Hampshire.
It will be Seniors Day at Elon.
UMaine held on for a 27-26 victory over Elon last season behind two Earnest Edwards kickoff-return touchdowns of 93 and 95 yards.
Elon quarterback Davis Cheek has completed 149 of 248 yards for 1,763 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has been intercepted six times.
“He’s a good player. We’re going to have to contain him,” UMaine head coach Nick Charlton said.
UMaine has had better offensive balance recently as the running attack has shown marked improvement, averaging 156.3 yards per game over the past three outings.
The mobile Fagnano has supplemented Joe Fitzpatrick (93 carries, 463 yards) and Emmanuel Reed (85-337) with 142 rushing yards on 55 carries. Jaquan Blair is sixth in the conference in pass receptions (50 for 693 yards) and reception yardage per game (77.0), while Edwards’ 103.2 receiving yards per game is second best in the CAA.
Linebackers Taji Lowe (70 tackles, 7 tackles for loss) and Adrian Otero (58), safety Josh Huffman (49) and end Kayon Whitaker (44, 12 TFL, 6 sacks) pace the defense.
Jaylan Thomas (100-394) and De’Sean McNair (76-292) lead an Elon rushing attack that averages only 3.4 yards per carry. Kortez Weeks (36-352) and Cole Taylor (31-397) are the top pass catchers, and the defense features safety Cole Coleman (69 tackles), cornerback Daniel Reid-Bennett (58), end Marcus Willioughby (52, 8.5 TFL, 5 sacks) and Liggs, who has made 42 tackles.