Freshman running back Nigel Jones capped off the University of Maine football season with an 82-yard touchdown run with 6:39 to play in the fourth quarter as the Black Bears beat the University of Rhode Island 55-6 Saturday afternoon.
Jones and junior running back Rickey Stevens both finished with over 100 yards rushing on the day, outgaining the entire URI offense by themselves. Jones and Stevens rushed for a combined 292 yards while the Rams managed only 228 rushing and passing yards combined.
The Black Bears got their big scoring day started on their first possession of the game. The opening drive was highlighted by a 35-yard run by Stevens. UMaine junior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski hooked up with junior tight end Justin Perillo for a 3-yard score to put UMaine on the board first 7-0 with 11:07 to play in the first quarter.
The UMaine defense also had a good day at URI, allowing nine first downs and only allowing two third-down conversions in 14 attempts. The Black Bears also stopped both fourth-down conversion attempts, with the first coming from URI’s first drive after the Black Bear’s first touchdown. UMaine sophomore defensive back Khari Al-Mateen broke up a fourth-and-1 pass attempt between URI junior quarterback Bob Bentsen and redshirt senior Brandon Johnson-Ferrell to turn the ball back over to UMaine with 7 minutes to go in the first quarter. UMaine held Bentsen to 98 yards, allowing eight completions on nine attempts, while Johnson-Ferrell was the leading rusher with only 23 yards.
After back-to-back three-and-outs by UMaine and URI, the Black Bears scored again with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter. The passing game picked up on this drive with Wasilewski completing passes of nine yards to Perillo and 14 yards to sophomore wide receiver Damarr Aultman. The Black Bears went back to the ground game on the score, as Jones rushed into the end zone from 18 yards to score his first of two touchdowns in the game to give UMaine a 14-0 lead.
After the Black Bear defense forced another three-and-out, the offense took over on their own 21-yard line. Wasilewski hit Stevens on an 11-yard pass and rushed for 25 yards himself during the drive before finding sophomore Arthur Williams on a 13-yard touchdown strike with 13:07 to play in the second quarter, extending the lead to 21-0. Wasilewski threw for 201 yards on 15 of 22 passing and four touchdowns, while Williams led all Black Bear receivers with 107 yards receiving, five receptions and catching two touchdown passes.
URI scored their only points in the game on the ensuing possession. Bentsen used a 51-yard pass to senior wide receiver Billy Morgan on the way to scoring the touchdown himself on a 2-yard run. Ram sophomore kicker Dylan Smith missed the extra point, making the score 28-6 with 8:00 to play in the half.
On the kickoff, URI freshman kicker Connor McHugh kicked the ball to the UMaine 6-yard line where Aultman was waiting for it. Aultman returned the ball 94 yards for a touchdown, extending the Black Bear lead to 28-6 with 7:45 to play in the second quarter.
The Black Bears extended their lead one more time before the half ended. With 1:49 remaining, Wasilewski hit Perillo from 12 yards out, and UMaine went to the locker room with a 34-6 lead after freshman kicker Sean Decloux missed the extra point.
UMaine received the ball first in the second half and wasted no time putting more points on the board. The Black Bears took to the ground for the majority of this drive with Stevens and Jones collecting 74 rushing yards. Jones rushed for 22 yards on the drive before Stevens finished it off with a 24-yard run of his own to extend the lead to 41-6 with 9:52 to go in the third quarter.
In their first possession of the fourth quarter, Wasilewski only needed one play to continue the rout. For the second time in the game, he found Williams open and hit him for a 42-yard touchdown pass, giving the Black Bears a 48-6 lead with 11:26 to play in the game.
Jones finished up scoring on the next UMaine possession with an 82-yard touchdown run, making the final score 55-6.
With the victory, UMaine finished the season at 5-6 with a conference record of 4-4, winning their final two games by a combined score of 106-13.