Coming off a bye week, the University of Maine football team was unable to beat the 15th-ranked University of Massachusetts on Saturday in Amherst, Mass.
The 39-24 loss dropped the Black Bears to 3-6 and 2-4 in Colonial Athletic Conference play, while the Minutemen improve to 6-3 and 3-3.
It didn’t take long for the Minutemen to gain an advantage, as the opening kickoff by the Black Bears was returned 97 yards by defensive back Ryan Carter. The extra point was wide, making the score 6-0 early.
The rest of the first quarter remained scoreless, as the Black Bears could not capitalize on good field position.
Two minutes into the second quarter, the Minutemen added to their lead when quarterback Kyle Havens shoveled a pass to tailback Jonathan Hernandez.
Midway through the second quarter the Black Bears were able to find the scoreboard when junior running back Pushaun Brown broke through with a 40-yard touchdown run.
The Minutemen would put the game out of reach with less than six minutes remaining in the half. After a touchdown pass by Havens, the Minutemen picked off junior quarterback Warren Smith’s pass and returned it for a touchdown, expanding the lead to 25-7.
Sophomore place-kicker Brian Harvey narrowed the deficit with a field goal, but the Minutemen scored with 45 seconds left in the half to bring the halftime score to 32-10.
Five minutes into the second half, the Black Bears would find the end zone by way of a Smith pass to sophomore wide receiver Maurice McDonald.
The halftime speech by head coach Jack Cosgrove must have inspired the Black Bears, as they held the Minutemen scoreless in the third quarter after a superb first half by the home team.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Minutemen had the ball near midfield when junior defensive back Jerron McMillian forced a fumble that junior defensive back Trevor Coston recovered.
The Black Bears couldn’t turn the fumble into points as the next drive resulted in Smith’s pass getting intercepted and returned for a touchdown six minutes into the fourth quarter.
The Black Bears wouldn’t go away easy as they found the endzone again on their next drive, this time a completion from Smith to senior wide receiver Tyrell Jones. The two-point conversion was successful, bringing the score to 39-24, where it would stay for the remainder of the game.
The Black Bears recovered an onside kick late in the fourth quarter, but could not capitalize.
On the final drive of the game, the Black Bears reached the red zone again, but Smith was picked off for the third time of the game as the Minutemen ran the clock out on their victory.
Despite the loss, the Black Bears out-gained the Minutemen on offense, compiling 419 total yards to the Minutemen’s 366. However, UMass got the best of the Black Bears in the turnover department, scoring 14 points off UMaine giveaways.
Brown ended with 141 rush yards and one touchdown on 22 carries, while Smith finished with 270 yards on 29 of 41 throwing, with two touchdowns and three picks.
The Black Bears have their final road game Saturday, Nov. 13 against Towson University.