The University of Maine Black Bears football team fell to 2-6 on the season after a 31-21 defeat on Saturday at Alfond Stadium. They lost to the Richmond Spiders who moved on to 6-2. UMaine fought back after falling down 21-0 in the first quarter but their comeback effort was not enough to grab back the win.
Richmond started with the ball and drove 70 yards in six plays. The biggest play of the first series was when fourth-year quarterback Reece Udinski found his target, grad student wide receiver Leroy Henley who broke multiple tackles on his way to UMaine’s 10-yard line on a 45-yard pick-up. Two plays later Udinski ran it in himself from a half-dozen yards out for the score.
After a five-play Black Bear possession fourth-year punter Brian Cooey punted it to Richmond’s 19, something he did in five of his six punt attempts, and pinned the Spiders inside their own 20. Although Cooey did have an exceptional day the Black Bears hoped he wasn’t going to appear as much as he did. This time Richmond traveled the length of the field in only four plays with the help of a 63-yard touchdown pass to grad student wideout Jakob Herres to make it a 14-0 game. After a brief UMaine possession Udinski led his team on a 10-play 90-yard drive, capped off by Udinski running it in for his second rushing touchdown of the day to extend the lead.
After the embarrassing start UMaine was able to stop the bleeding by conducting a 10-play 80-yard touchdown drive at the hands of quarterback Joe Fagnano. Fourth-year captain tight end Shawn Bowman later left the game with a leg injury which forced him to be carted off the field. He finished with two catches for 21 yards and UMaine’s sole score of the half. The teams traded punts on their final four possessions of the half and the score remained at 21-7.
After another punt to start the third quarter for UMaine, Richmond continued to carve up the defense by going 97 yards in 11 plays. Udinski threw a dart to Henley again from 21 yards out in the back of the end zone to go back up by three scores. Cooey pinned the Spiders at their own 10 after a quick UMaine possession. This time the Black Bear defense prevailed by sacking Udinski and forcing a fumble that led to a turnover on Richmond’s goal line.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, and on third down Fagnano lofted a pass to third-year wide receiver Montigo Moss in the corner of the end zone, where he lived up to his name for the second week in a row and “Mossed” the Spider defender. After a lengthy review it was proven that Moss did catch the ball in bounds and the Black Bears brought it back to a two-touchdown game. Richmond was yet again able to get in the UMaine red zone, but fourth-year defensive back Benito Speight intercepted a pass in the end zone, resulting in a touchback. Five plays later, fourth-year wide receiver Zavier Scott took a jet sweep 41 yards to keep the hopes alive and make it 28-21.
On the resulting drive, Richmond was effectively able to drain the clock by running the ball. After taking four and a half minutes off the time Andrew Lopez was able to kick a 22-yard field goal to make it a 10-point lead. After a furious comeback attempt, UMaine lined up for a 47-yard field goal attempt. Cody Williams doinked it off the right upright. This essentially put the nail in the proverbial coffin for UMaine. The Spiders were able to sit on the ball for the final minutes of the game and came out victorious 31-21.
A point of emphasis for UMaine for the rest of the season is to work on their pass defense. They got torched for 368 yards through the air on Saturday. The run defense as a whole was decent enough but certainly needs improvement as well. The team travels to Rhode Island next week for a matchup against the 5-3 URI Rams.