Opening night was bittersweet for the University of Maine Black Bears. UMaine welcomed fans back to the Alfond Stadium for the first time since 2019. The energy was felt all throughout the venue, and it was comforting to see fans back in a loud stadium on campus.
Sadly, the University of Delaware would crash the party and jump out to a 17-0 lead by the beginning of the second quarter. UMaine would not go quietly, unlike last year when Delaware beat Maine 37-0. Third-year quarterback Joe Fagano would get the offense going in the second quarter, leading UMaine on a six play 75-yard drive. The drive was capped off by a 28-yard touchdown pass to second-year receiver Michael Monios, cutting the Delaware lead to 10.
A wild sequence would see UMaine score two touchdowns in 1:05 of gametime. On the first play of a drive, Umaine scored on a 59-yard touchdown pass from Joe Fagano to fourth-year receiver Zavier Scott. UMaine’s defense felt the momentum and followed it with a three and out defensive stop. Delaware would elect to punt. Maine blocked the punt and second-year receiver Montigo Moss would return the blocked punt for a touchdown, putting UMaine up 21-17. A last-second field goal would make it 24 unanswered points for UMaine, and at halftime UMaine surprisingly had a 24-17 lead.
Delaware would prove why they were ranked fifth in the FCS rankings heading into the season. UMaine was kept off the scoresheet the entire second half. Meanwhile, Delaware’s offense would help them gradually pull away with two touchdowns and a field goal in the second half. The final score would be 34-24 in favor of Delaware.
Joe Fagano passed for 305 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Zavier Scott would lead UMaine with 73 receiving yards, with 59 of the yards coming on the touchdown in the second quarter. UMaine’s leading rusher was third-year running back Elijah Barnwell, who totaled 37 yards.
UMaine’s opponent in the second game of the season would be another highly ranked opponent. James Madison University came into this past weekend’s competition ranked third in FCS.
UMaine would never find their footing, and James Madison blew them out 55-7. The result felt like it was never in question. James Madison would enter halftime up 24-0 and never took their foot off the pedal, putting up 31 more points in the second half. They totaled 517 yards on the day compared to the 194 yards from UMaine.
Joe Fagano would leave the game in the first half with an injury and never returned. Second-year quarterback Derek Robertson would take over running the offense in his first career game for UMaine. A tough test for a young quarterback against one of the best FCS teams in the nation. Robertson would throw his first college career touchdown on a 22-yard pass to fifth-year receiver Andre Miller. It was the single silver lining in an otherwise forgettable performance.
Derek Robertson would lead UMaine with 88 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. Andre Miller would lead the team in receiving yards with 41. Elijah Barnwell again would lead the team in rushing yards with 57 yards on 16 carries.
A rough 0-2 start for UMaine, but James Madison and Delaware are arguably the two best opponents Maine will face this regular season. UMaine’s next game will be on Saturday, Sept. 11 at noon, where they will host Merrimack College at the Alfond Stadium. Merrimack will be another tough test. Merrimack has started the season 2-0, with wins over Saint Anselm and Holy Cross. Both of their wins have been by double digits.