After a bye-week in week one of the college football season, the University of Maine football team traveled to Chestnut Hill, Mass. to open up their season against the Boston College Eagles. BC was looking to avenge its season, conference and home opening loss against Miami University the week before, while UMaine came in looking to achieve an upset and get their year off on the right foot. However, BC’s size and speed and UMaine’s costly mistakes took a toll, and the Eagles defeated the Black Bears 34-3.
After receiving the opening kick-off, BC was on a mission to continue their high-powered offense, which put up 537 yards the week before. However, both teams would wind up going three and out on their first possessions. UMaine gave BC some early breaks by hiking the ball over the head of junior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski and being called for a horse-collar tackle on a the first BC punt return.
Starting with great field position after the punt, BC marched up the field, highlighted by a 21-yard pass from junior quarterback Chase Rettig to junior wide receiver Johnathan Coleman. However, BC sophomore running back Tahj Kimble fumbled the ball out of the end-zone on a 13-yard carry. The resulting touchback gave UMaine the ball on their own 20.
Even after this mistake, UMaine was not able to advance the ball into scoring range, but a 60-yard punt by sophomore punter Jeffrey Ondish put the ball on the BC 1. After a Maine pass interference penalty gave BC a first down, UMaine senior defensive back Darlos James recovered a fumble, giving the Black Bears the ball on the BC 10. But UMaine was only able to advance the ball to the 2, and senior kicker Brian Harvey put one through the uprights from 19 yards out to give UMaine a 3-0 lead with 4:13 left to play in the first quarter.
The early breaks continued for UMaine, as an offensive pass interference penalty on BC’s next drive looked to set the Eagles up for another drive that would go nowhere, but a third down pass to Coleman kept the Eagles alive. A defensive stop gave the Black Bears the ball back on their own 20-yard line after a touchback on the punt.
Early on, it seemed UMaine would be able to stick with BC and give them a run for their money.
“Boston College, they’re here for a reason, they’re big, strong and athletic,” said junior defensive end Michael Cole. “Our mentality this week was to just come in, get lined up and work the moves that we’ve been taught.”
“I was feeling good,” he continued. “I thought we were definitely in the game. The defense was sharp. I felt like we could have won it at that point. We just continued to play hard and keep it up.”
After three consecutive drives by both teams that went nowhere, UMaine punted a ball that went only 25 yards into the wind, giving BC an excellent opportunity to get on the board by starting the drive on their own 38 yard line. Junior running back Rolandan Finch picked up 16-yards on the ground, as UMaine defenders had a hard time wrapping him up. On third and goal from the UMaine 3-yard line, Rettig tossed a touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Spiffy Evans to give BC a 7-3 lead with 7:09 left to play in the second quarter. Finch led the Eagles on the ground with 91 yards on 17 carries while Evans finished the day with 53 yards on four catches and a touchdown.
On UMaine’s ensuing possession, Ondish fumbled the snap during a punting play and recovered the ball on the Black Bear 15 yard line. This gave BC pristine field position. It only took two plays for the Eagles to reach the end zone, with Rettig hooking up with Coleman on a nine yard touchdown pass. This gave BC a 14-3 lead with 5:26 to play in the second quarter.
Maine’s offensive struggles continued as they had a hard time gaining any kind of rhythm.. BC continued to obtain favorable field position possession after possession because of UMaine’s lack of ability to move the ball any great distance in the second quarter.
One main reason cited for the Black Bears slow day on offense was the size of BC’s players.
“Their defensive line is some big dudes. I walked out there, one guy was pretty tall. Me being 6[-foot]-1[-inch], it’s tough. If you look at your check-down routes, if a guy gets his hand up at the right time, he’s going to bat it down,” said Wasilewski.
“You ask about our [defensive] line verses their [defensive] line, they have five guys on their [offensive] line, none of them are under 310 pounds. We don’t have 300 pounds in our level of football. We don’t have 6[-foot]-8[-inch], 6[-foot]-9[-inch] guys rushing our passer. This is the kind of thing you face,” said head coach Jack Cosgrove.
BC’s two minute offense went into full swing at the end of the first half, with Rettig and junior receiver Alex Amidon helping move the ball down the field and stopping the clock by running routes tight with the sideline. With a third and 10 on the Black Bear 22, the Maine defense stood strong, forcing the Eagles to attempt a 39 yard field goal. With a strong wind at his back junior kicker Nate Freese had no problem putting the ball through the uprights. BC would take its 17-3 lead into the half.
UMaine only gained 73 yards of total offense in the first half, as compared to BC’s 250.
UMaine received a break right out of the second half gate when the kick-off rolled out of bounds. With the ball placed at the 35-yard line, the Black Bears had a chance to gain some ground and cut the lead. Slowly but surely, sophomore running back David Hood took chunk after chunk of yardage as the Black Bears marched down the field. Wasilewski, having a tough day in the passing game up to this point, converted a fourth and one on a quarterback sneak and then completed a 12 yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Arthur Williams to get UMaine into field goal range. A pass up the middle to sophomore tight end Justin Perillo seemed to put Maine on the two, but it was called back on an illegal shift penalty. Unable to convert a third and 15, senior kicker Brian Harvey missed wide left, keeping the score at 17-3 with 9:23 left to play in the third quarter.
Following the missed field goal, Rettig and Evans got the Eagles into Maine territory right off the bat with a 36 yard pass play to the Black Bear 38. After UMaine kept BC from gaining another first down, BC punted the ball and downed it at the 1, giving UMaine 99 yards to the other side of the field. Rettig completed 16 of 32 passes with no interceptions and 219 yards.
Hood was barely able to escape a safety in the end zone on the first two plays, when senior Maurice McDonald had a pass ripped out of his hands by BC senior defensive back Jim Noel. The Eagles took control on the UMaine 18. Six plays later, BC kicked a 20 yard field goal to extend the lead to 20-3 with 3:35 to play in the third quarter. This was the second time in the game BC scored off a UMaine turnover deep in Black Bear territory. McDonald was the leading receiver for UMaine with six catches for 37 yards.
According to Cosgrove, the inexperience of the team contributed to many of the mistakes on the field that led to scoring chances for BC
“You can drop a punt snap in game eight. I think it was a matter of experience. We have five new football coaches on this staff. We have a whole bunch of new guys. When Trevor Coston and Jerron McMillian go to the NFL and you put in two new starters, there are some changes going on. Marcus will benefit from this tremendously, so will our safeties, and so will our punter,” Cosgrove said.
After a three and out, Ondish punted for the seventh time of the day. Evans was back for BC to return it and proceeded to find the end zone on an 82 yard return. This put the Eagles up 27-3 with 2:28 left to play in the third quarter.
The woes continued for the Black Bears as the afternoon dragged on. Wasilewski threw his second interception of the day, being picked off this time by BC sophomore defensive back Manuel Asprilla. On the very next play, Rettig found a wide open Amidon in the end zone. This 33 yard touchdown pass extended the lead to 34-3 with 1:18 to go in the third quarter. Wasilewski ended up going 20 of 42 with two interceptions and 134 yards on the day. Amidon led the Eagles’ receivers with six catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
After two punts, the Black Bears received the ball on their own 48-yard line after a relatively short punt by BC. Junior wide receiver Derrick Johnson took an end-around to gain a first down for the Black Bears to get them into Eagle territory. Johnson continued to do well for the Black Bears by picking up another first down and getting closer and closer to the end zone. Hood took the ball up the middle for ten yards on the ensuing play but coughed it up. Once again, the Black Bears were close enough to score, but the chance was blown. Hood led the Black Bears’ rushers with 67 yards on 21 carries.
The next time the Black Bears went on the offensive, Johnson continued to be a large part of the offense. Johnson helped lead the Black Bears into Eagle territory, but they were once again not able to get into field goal range.
Johnson finished the game with five catches for 37 yards.
The Eagles put in sophomore quarterback Josh Bordner for the remainder of the game, as the Eagles ran the clock out and finished the game up by running the ball, winning by a score of 34-3.
Going up against a tough opponent will allow the Black Bears to improve upon their game as they head on down their schedule.
“It’s a real good experience for us to play against [Atlantic Coast Conference] linemen. It’s a different breed of guy. I feel like going against BC gave us a lot of good experience and will help us out against our next opponents,” Cole said.
Cosgrove expects UMaine to respond to this loss the same way BC responded to their loss against Miami.
“They are a far superior team than Miami, and they handed one over to them, and I told our guys they were going to be hungry for a win. You only get so many opportunities, this isn’t basketball, this isn’t baseball, you only get 11, 12 opportunities. So we knew what we were going to be up against,” Cosgrove said.
“I would suspect that we would react how BC reacted this weekend, coming in ready to play a football game and hungry for a win. That’s what I expect from our guys next week.”
UMaine falls to 0-1 on the year and plays at Bryant University next Saturday, while 1-1 BC travels to Northwestern University.