A 34-yard scoring strike from first-year quarterback Chris Ferguson to third-year wide receiver Micah Wright proved to be the difference maker in Saturday’s low-scoring affair. The University of Maine (3-3) entered the game having come off a 51-point outburst against Rhode Island, but found things tougher against the University at Albany Great Danes (3-4), who, coming in, had yet to lose a contest at home.
Albany had its best and final shot at taking the lead in the fourth. Facing a third down, it was first-year linebacker DeShawn Stevens sacking second-year quarterback Will Brunson for a loss of nine yards. The Great Danes plagued themselves seconds later with a false start penalty too, quickly turning a 30-yard field goal attempt into a 44-yard one. Third-year kicker Ethan Starks attempt ended up sailing wide left, allowing Maine to run out the clock.
The Black Bears lead in all major categories, out-gaining Albany by over 100 yards on offense. The defense turned in its best performance of the year, holding Albany to under 100 yards rushing, 163 yards passing and perhaps the most important stat, a third down conversion rate of just 1-for-12. Getting the opponent off the field fast is always a plus and the Black Bears excelled at doing that in the first half. They surrendered only 71 yards and forced nine Albany punts.
The defense got contributions from nearly every player, with four players notching seven tackles. But it was second-year defensive end Kayon Whitaker who stood out the most. He finished with seven tackles and two sacks, and now has five in his last three games.
The team’s nine-point output in the second quarter proved to be more than enough. Star second-year back Joshua Mack once again paved the way. He finished with 181 yards from scrimmage, with 108 of them coming on the ground. The 100-yard rushing performance marked the fifth of the season for Mack.
Ferguson finished 19 of 30 for 263 yards and a touchdown, with his leading receiver being fourth-year wide receiver Jared Osumah, who hauled in five catches for 65 yards on the afternoon.
Third-year kicker Brandon Briggs converted both of his field goal tries, but missed his only extra point attempt, an area which has continued to be up and down for the team throughout the season.
The Great Danes had little success on offense. On top of being out-gained by Maine, the team failed to reach the end zone on the offensive side of the ball. Their defense was able to cash in on a fumble late in the first quarter which was returned five yards for a score by third-year defensive lineman Antoine White. A Starks 36-yard field goal in the third would be all the scoring for Albany on the day.
Albany is back in action against the University of Rhode Island on Saturday, Oct. 28 at home for 1 p.m. kickoff. Maine returns home on Saturday as well for a tilt against William and Mary with that game set to begin at noon.