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Maine falls to archrival UNH in final game

The University of Maine (6-5) football team saw their season come to an end on Saturday afternoon, following a 24-21 loss to their archrival University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (7-4) at the Alfond Arena. The Wildcats won the game in tragic fashion as they chewed up the clock and marched the ball down the field on their final drive of the game before connecting on the game-winning 21-yard field goal with just seven seconds remaining in regulation. The Black Bears have not defeated the Wildcats since the 2010 season.

Fourth-year quarterback Dan Collins went 11-for-28 through the air for 202 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. First-year running back Josh Mack rushed the ball 21 times for 84 yards. Second-year wide receiver Micah Wright led the way with five catches for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Maine got on the board late in the first quarter, thanks to a muffed punt by UNH that handed Collins and the offense the football on the New Hampshire 29-yard line. Head Coach Joe Harasymiak then called for some trickery once they moved up to UNH’s 13-yard line and it paid off. Collins snapped the ball and handed it off to first-year wide receiver Earnest Edwards on what looked to be an end-around, but Edwards stopped on a dime and floated a beautiful pass into the endzone to third-year wide receiver Jared Osumah who came down with the touchdown catch. Following the trick play, Edwards has a receiving, rushing, passing and kick return touchdown on the season

The Wildcats defense answered the call with a pick-six with 14 seconds left in the first quarter. UNH’s first-year safety Pop Lacey perfectly jumped the route on a Collins pass and returned it 44 yards for the score and tied the game at 7 heading into the second quarter.

Maine’s defense then came up big early in the second quarter as third-year linebacker Austin Brown made an interception on the Black Bears’ 5-yard line to keep points off the board for UNH. Maine then quickly moved the ball up field before Collins found his go-to guy in Micah Wright for a 44-yard touchdown that would allow Maine to carry a 14-7 lead into the half.

UNH’s fourth-year running back Dalton Crossan knotted the game up at 14 all with 5:31 left in the third quarter off of a nice 35-yard gallop into the endzone. Then UNH took the lead on their next possession early in the fourth quarter when fourth-year quarterback Adam Riese and second-year wide receiver Neil O’Connor hooked up for a 10-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone for the Wildcats first lead of the game.

“The offensive line was awesome today and I was able to just take advantage of such big holes and open field to run,” Crossan said. “This was our biggest game of the year and I’m glad we were able to come out on top today and hopefully we will be playing in the playoffs next week.”

Maine wouldn’t go down without a fight, though. Collins and the offense got themselves together two drives later as Collins and Wright teamed up one last time for a 29-yard touchdown in a do-or-die situation as it was fourth and ten with just 5:02 remaining in regulation. The touchdown was Wright’s second of the game.

However, the Wildcats responded with a slow-paced 12 play, 64-yard drive that unfortunately concluded with a game winning 21-yard field goal by second-year kicker Morgan Ellman.

Maine had one last desperation Hail Mary from its own 26 yard-line but the attempt fell incomplete and UNH squeaked away with a 24-21 victory and in all likelihood a playoff spot.   

Head Coach Joe Harasymiak had some kind words for his seniors, for most of whom played the last football games of their career on Saturday.

“I just want to thank the seniors for everything they have done. They helped turn this program around from a 3-8 team to a playoff caliber one. I love those guys and I told them that. We just didn’t play well enough today, not disciplined enough. That’s it,” Harasymiak said.

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