The University of Maine (6-4) football team kept their playoff hopes alive as they took down the Stony Brook Sea Wolves (5-5) on the road 27-21 on Saturday afternoon. Maine led 27-0 at one point in the game before surrendering 21 unanswered points, almost allowing the game to slip away as they barely held off Stony Brook for the tight victory.
Maine’s third-year cornerback Najee Goode made the play of the game when he picked off Stony Brook’s second-year quarterback Pat Irwin with 1:36 remaining in regulation and Stony Brook trailing by just six. Goode’s interception secured the victory for the Black Bears as they were able to just kneel the ball until the final buzzer.
The Black Bears were effective from their opening drive. They took 11 plays to march down the field 56-yards, chewing up 4:53 of clock and capping it off with a first-year running back Josh Mack touchdown. Mack ran the ball in from 12 yards out on a crafty run where he weaved through multiple defenders. Maine was on top 7-0 with 6:50 left in the first quarter.
Maine’s next score came thanks to a bad Stony Brook snap that was mishandled and allowed second-year defensive back Mozai Nelson to scoop and score from 23 yards out. This increased the Black Bears lead to 13-0 as they missed the extra point.
The Black Bears got the ball back one last time in the first half with 4:47 left to play. Fourth-year quarterback Dan Collins was effective in driving Maine down the field by completing 7-of-8 throws before finding third-year wide receiver Jared Osumah on second and goal to increase Maine’s lead to 20-0 heading into the halftime break.
Stony Brook went three and out following the halftime break. Mack and the offense picked right up where they left off on their own 37-yard line. Mack ran the ball aggressively for 25 yards on four carries before snaring a screen pass from Collins on the Stony Brook 21-yard line, which he took to the house for his second score of the game. Mack’s receiving touchdown was his second touchdown of the game and increased the Black Bear lead to 27-0 and ultimately putting the game out of reach halfway through the third quarter.
However, the Sea Wolves had not quit as they strung together 21 unanswered points and found themselves with a chance to win the game with just two minutes remaining. Maine got the ball with 2:32 remaining in regulation and up by just six on Stony Brook’s 22-yard line.
Stony Brook used all three timeouts, Mack ran the rock all three times and got stuffed at the line of scrimmage on fourth-down which gave the ball back to the Sea Wolves with 1:36 remaining in the game. In the Sea Wolves first play, Irwin dropped back and threw it to the right side of the field where Goode came up victorious by tearing away the pass from the receiver for the interception and the Maine victory.
Collins was much better this week for the Black Bears, completing 16-of-24 passes for 156 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception. Mack was the featured part of the offense on Saturday for Maine as he ran for 157 yards on 39 carries and a rushing touchdown. Mack also added two receptions for 28 yards and a receiving touchdown which proved to be the game winner. Second-year wide receiver Micah Wright had four receptions for 47 yards. Third-year wide receiver Jared Osumah hauled in four passes for 24 yards and a touchdown.
For the Maine defense it was second-year linebacker Sterling Shepard on the scene most with two sacks and four tackles. Third-year defensive back Deandre Scott recorded a team-high eight tackles for the Black Bears.
Maine looks to punch a ticket into the CAA playoffs next week as they face a must-win situation next Saturday against arch-rival University of New Hampshire at home with kickoff set for 1 p.m. Stony Brook will also compete within the CAA for their final season game Nov. 19 at the University of Albany with a kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m.