The Hofstra Pride left the University of Maine football team baffled on Saturday at Alfond Stadium with a 31-20 win over a Black Bear team that was picked to finish second in the nation according to preseason polls.
“It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a win,” said Hofstra head coach Joe Gardi.
The Pride’s offense proved unstoppable behind sophomore quarterback Anton Clarkson, who threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns.
The first taste of Clarkson’s efficiency came with 6:35 remaining in the first quarter when he found Isaac Irby for an eight-yard score putting his team up 7-0 after a Chris Onorato PAT.
“Clarkson played well, but it comes down to us finishing,” said senior cornerback John Baumgartner. “We didn’t get the job done.”
Aside from giving up 408 yards in the air, the UMaine defense also allowed tailback Terry Crenshaw to gain almost 100 rushing yards while receiver Charles Sullivan caught 204 of those 408 yards.
The second quarter highlighted each offense, with the two teams combining for 30 points in less than 15 minutes.
Onorato boosted Hofstra’s lead to 10-0 when he booted a 46-yard field goal four minutes in to the quarter.
Marcus Williams responded running for 14 of his 66 first half yards with 8:52 left to put UMaine on the board for six. Mike Mellow’s extra point failed.
At the end of the next drive, Alex Goyins blocked Joe Nolan’s punt, allowing Arel Gordon to snatch the loose football at the Hofstra two-yard line, en route to the end zone for another score. Maine now led 13-10.
Clarkson, who turned 21 on game day, wouldn’t let his team stay down for long. On the next possession he led the Pride 80 yards down the field, ending the drive with a 10-yard pass to Sullivan. Hofstra was back up 17-13 with two minutes remaining in the half.
“Those plays have got to be ours,” said Baumgartner. “The quarterback was throwing the ball up, and we have to come down with it.”
UMaine started its last drive of the half with 59 seconds left, after Jermaine Walker intercepted Clarkson at the UMaine 45 running it back for 21 yards.
With a fourth-and-goal situation, quarterback Ron Whitcomb handed the ball to Williams who completed the one-yard run for a touchdown.
Unfortunately for UMaine, that would be the last time the team lit up the scoreboard.
“In the first 30 minutes, we did everything we could offensively, defensively and on special teams,” said head coach Cosgrove. “We fought and did some good things and were feeding off of each other. That did not exist in the second half. We got beat and did not play how Black Bear football should play, which was very uncharacteristic.”
With 10 seconds left in the third quarter, Clarkson rushed for a two-yard touchdown. Hoftra’s last score came when Clarkson again found Irby, this time for a one-yard pass with 3:34 left in the game.
The UMaine offense ran for just 29 yards in the second half.
“I’m lost,” said Williams, who was 33 yards short of becoming UMaine’s all time leading rusher. “That is the worst half of football we’ve had all season.”
The Black Bear defense was led by Walker, who had 10 tackles, the interception and a fumble recovery. Anthony Hicks and Marcus Walton each had nine tackles, and both forced a fumble.
“I give a ton of credit to Hofstra for playing the whole 60 minutes,” said Cosgrove. “We played two different halves. In the second half, we were not fighting and scrapping, and I think we started to get frustrated about not being able to move the ball.”
UMaine returns home for its last game of the season Nov. 20, when the Black Bears face UNH in hopes of returning the Brice-Cowell Musket to Orono.