Hamilton, N.Y. — No. 12 Maine (2-2) put together a complete effort to earn its first road victory of the season, a 35-21 triumph on Saturday at Colgate (0-4).
Earnest Edwards matched his own school-record with a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns, including matching a school-record with a 100-yard return, as he finished with three total touchdowns on the day. Edwards’ 198 kickoff return yards broke his previous school-record of 188, set in 2018 against Elon.
The offense, which came into action looking to focus on the run game, rushed for a season-high 152-yards led by Joe Fitzpatrick’s 102 yard, one score effort. Through the air, Edwards recorded a pair of interceptions for 60-yards and a score as Chris Ferguson finished the game 8-of-19 for 165-yards and a touchdown.
Maine’s Black Hole defense dialed up eight sacks on the day, its most since recording nine on Oct. 12, 2012 at Delaware. Max Roberts led the charge with 2.5 sacks while Kayon Whitaker added a pair of sacks and 2.5 total tackles for loss. Taji Lowe’s career-best and game-high 12 tackle effort paced Maine’s defensive attack while Adrian Otero added a career-high 10 stops. Maine was able to limit Colgate to just 3-of-13 on third down.
Bend don’t break. After a big third down tackle for loss, Whitaker’s sack on third down backed Colgate up to the Maine 24 where the Raiders would miss the 41-yard field goal try. Maine’s offense took over for its first drive of the game, beginning from its own 24.
The Black Bears remained committed to the game plan, sticking to the ground game with 10 carries for 48-yards on their opening drive Maine began with five straight rushes, including a 14 yard gain from Joe Fitzpatrick up to the Maine 49. Facing a third and four, Ferguson lofted a pass to Miller who elevated over his defender for a 23-yard reception. The Black Bears went back to the ground for three more carries down to the Colgate one where Fitzpatrick would leap over the line and cross the plane the score.
After an impressive defensive effort, which included Whitaker in on his third sack of the first half, Maine took over on offense at its own 45. Sticking with the run, Fitzpatrick leapt over a defender on his way to picking up 15 yards. The offense then went to the air where Ferguson hit Edwards for 20-yards before finding Shawn Bowman for a gain of 24 down to the Colgate 5-yard line. Maine was able to extend its lead to 14-0 with 5:29 left in the half, going back to the ground for a five yard touchdown by Reed.
Maine’s defense forced a three and out to regain possession but Ferguson was intercepted at the Maine 27. The Black Hole defense swarmed on first down as Mitchell punched the ball loose but Colgate recovered the fumble at the Maine 28. Two plays later, Colgate quarterback Jake Froschauer found Nick Diaco for a 28-yard touchdown.
The Black Bears wasted no time responding. Working out of the two-minute drill with 1:13 left in the half, Ferguson hit Devin Young for 20-yards out to the Maine 45. On the next play, Edwards beat his defender outside as Ferguson laid a perfect pass into his arms for the score as Maine carried a 21-7 lead into the break.
The momentum created by the late first half score only grew early in the second when Edwards, Maine’s all-time leader in kickoff returns for touchdowns, added another. The senior took the opening kickoff a career-best 100-yard for the score, matching Maine’s all-time record for longest kickoff return in Black Bear history.
The Raiders made it a two score game with 5:05 left in the third quarter when Alex Mathews rushed in from 18-yards out.
The trend continued as Maine refused to let Colgate gain any momentum. For the second time in his career, Edwards returned a pair of kickoffs for scores as the senior took the ensuing kickoff 95-yards for his sixth career touchdown return.
Following a 41-yard field goal miss by the Black Bears, Colgate took over on its own 44 with 10:51 left in regulation. The Raiders marched 76-yards, ending with a 44-yard rushing touchdown from Nick Draught, cutting the lead to 35-21 with 8:59 left in the fourth quarter.
Colgate continued to pressure as its offense put together a late drive where it would face a 4th and three deep in Maine territory on the five. The Black Hole pressure would again come up big in a big spot as Alejandro Oregon’s initial pressure forced the quarterback to scramble before Josh Huffman made the tackle, turning Colgate over on downs and all but sealing the victory for the Black Bears.
The Black Bears return to Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) action next weekend when it travels to No. 18 Villanova with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 28.