First-year wide receiver and kick returner Earnest Edwards did all he could in the University of Maine (5-4) football team’s 26-7 loss to No. 10 Villanova (7-2) on Saturday. Edwards totaled 245 yards and recorded Maine’s only touchdown of the game on a 97-yard kick return. Edwards 97-yard return was the longest one for the Black Bears since 2004. The loss ended the Black Bears’ current five-game winning streak and put their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
Maine made life easy for Villanova, with a number of mistakes throughout the contest that ultimately ended up costing them the game. Whether it was a missed field goal, interception in the red zone or a bad snap on the 10-yard line, Maine had multiple errors which helped Villanova to their second consecutive win.
Maine’s third-year kicker Patrick Leonard came up small when the team needed him most as he shanked a 24-yard field goal wide right in the second quarter when the Black Bears were down just 3-0. The missed kick now puts Leonard at 1-for-7 on the season and forces Head Coach Joe Harasymiak to coach the game differently than he normally would have.
“From missing the field goal early, there’s not a lot of confidence in that. We got to come up with ways to get in the end zone rather than miss field goals,” Harasymiak said.
Villanova muffed a punt on their own 10 and the Black Bears failed to get any points out of it, due to a snap by fourth-year center Max Andrews that was way too high for third-year quarterback Dan Collins to handle.
Collins was off his game on Saturday as the ferocious Villanova defense gave him fits all afternoon. Collins completed 18-of-35 passes for 235 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions. Collins was unlike his normal self that Black Bears have seen in the past five games, making ill-advised throws and not looking at his check down man during play. Thus, Maine’s offense was completely shutout for the first time of the season, as the Edwards’ kick return for a touchdown was the lone score that the special teams were responsible for.
“It was just bad decision making, bad plays by me. I’ll look at the film quick for mistakes and make sure it won’t happen again,” Collins said. “We just didn’t finish because of mistakes and errors in the red zone that cost us the game.”
Third-year wide receiver Micah Wright has a couple successful catches and hauled in eight grabs for 99 yards. First-year running back Josh Mack ran the rock 10 times for 63 yards. Edwards recorded five receptions for 54 yards to go with a nice 26-yard run on a reverse sweep. On top of his receiving and rushing yards he added 152 yards and touchdown on kick return.
For Villanova, second-year quarterback Zach Bednarczyk performed well against the UMaine defense. He went 23-for-31 on his passes and aired it out for 326 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. Third-year tight end Ryan Bell was a beast for Villanova as he secured four catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns. One of Bell’s touchdowns was an impressive toe tapper in corner of the endzone. Second-year receiver Jarrett McClenton chipped in with six receptions for 91 yards. Their running game was nothing to speak of.
Villanova improves to 5-1 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) action. The Black Bears look to get back in the win column and keep their playoff aspirations alive when they travel to New York to play Stony Brook on Nov. 12. It will take the Black Bears winning their last two contests against Stony Brook and the University of New Hampshire to have a shot at postseason play.
Villanova will travel to Virginia on Nov. 12 to play No. 20 James Madison University. Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.