The 15th meeting between James Madison and the University of Maine football team ended with the Chris Treister ‘helicopter’ play that gave the Black Bears the 25-24 win in overtime and catapulted UMaine into the playoffs.
There would be no such magic in the 16th meeting as No. 10 James Madison — 7-2, 4-1 in Colonial Athletic Association — pounded the Black Bears 31-7 at Alfond Stadium Saturday evening.
The Dukes came into the game with the third-best rushing offense and No. 1 ranked defense in points allowed in the CAA. They lived up to that billing holding the Black Bears to 104 total yards of offense while rushing for 314 yards on their own en route to 476 total yards.
James Madison had a pair of 100-yard rushers as running back Dae’Quan Scott rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, and dual-threat quarterback Justin Thorpe provided a spark rushing for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Thorpe finished 9-of-12 passing for 108 yards passing and one touchdown as well.
“It was the most complete game we have played all year,” James Madison head coach Mickey Mathews said. “We had our best practice of the year on Wednesday.”
The loss puts UMaine at 3-6 overall and 2-4 in conference play. The Black Bears were never able to get anything going on offense as junior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski finished 14-of-25 passing for 85 yards with three interceptions. Sophomore Arthur Williams was his top receiver catching four balls for 41 yards.
“It was just tough to find open guys at times,” Wasilewski said.
The Black Bears only trailed 10-0 at halftime, but had only one drive last more than seven plays, converted three first downs and only possessed the ball more than 2 minutes on one drive.
“They out played us,” UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove said. “We made too many mistakes and they kicked our butts.”
The Dukes broke the scoreless half with a long, 17-play drive that resulted in a 30-yard Cameron Starke field goal with just over 6 minutes in the first quarter.
The highlight for the Black Bears would come on the defensive side of the ball. The Dukes were threatening deep in Black Bear territory and came up short of a first down on the 2-yard line. James Madison elected to go for it on fourth down and the Black Bear defense held tough, forcing the turnover on downs.
“We were persevering,” Cosgrove said.
On the next play, Wasilewski’s pass was tipped by James Madison defensive back Jakarie Jackson and intercepted by linebacker Stephon Robertson. Thorpe would finish the drive with a 9-yard touchdown run giving James Madison the 10-0 lead.
“It all started up front with our defensive line,” Robertson said.
UMaine may not have been playing their best football, but they were still in the game through the middle of the third quarter. The back-breaker came on a 44-yard strike from Thorpe to senior tight end Brian Barlow down the sideline that put James Madison up 24-0 and the game out of reach.
Thorpe would add one more rushing touchdown from eight yards out in the fourth quarter and both of Wasilewski’s interceptions would come from defensive back Ryan Smith.
“The little things carry over to big things,” Robertson said.
UMaine would get on the board with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Junior defensive back Jamal Clay would take the ball right out of the James Madison quarterback’s hands and return it 67 yards for the defensive touchdown, putting the final score at 31-7.
“I give credit to the guys for playing until the end,” Cosgrove said.
UMaine will resume play at Alfond Stadium next Saturday at 2 p.m. against Georgia State.