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Black Bears secure split of conference title, best Richmond Spiders

Second-year starting quarterback Chris Ferguson had himself a day, completing 20 of 32 attempted passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns, as the University of Maine Black Bears defeated the University of Richmond Spiders 28-9.

Ferguson found a plethora of receivers on the day, with third-year wide receiver Earnest Edwards being Ferguson’s favorite target, catching six passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Fourth-year wideout Micah Wright was also quite productive on the day, catching five passes for 72 yards and a score. Fellow third-year wideout Jaquan Blair also caught seven passes for 59 yards and a score.

The “Black Hole” was back in action once again as well, limiting the Spiders to just 29 rushing yards. However, the Spiders were also able to mitigate the Black Bears’ rushing offense, allowing only 57 rushing yards for Maine. One of the key determining factors on the day was both teams’ ability to convert on third down. The Black Bears converted eight of 16 attempts, while the Spiders were only able to convert two of 13 third down attempts.

The Black Bears kicked off the game in similar fashion to their previous two games, by scoring a touchdown on the opening drive. Ferguson orchestrated a strong opening drive, guiding Maine’s offense down the field on an 11-play, 65-yard drive capped off with a 4-yard strike to Edwards in the end zone. Following two punts from each team, Ferguson took the field once more with his offense, and drove 76-yards down the field on seven plays, including an impressive diving catch by Blair on third and long. Ferguson found Blair again, this time in the end zone, for a 6-yard score to wrap up the drive.

In the beginning of the second quarter, Richmond finally found their rhythm on offense, with second-year quarterback Reid Chenault leading the Spiders 60 yards down the field on a 10-play drive. The Black Hole held tough though, shutting the Spiders down in Maine’s red zone. Richmond sent out fourth-year kicker Griffin Trau to kick the chip shot field goal, and the Spiders found themselves down 14-3.

Maine had a short drive resulting in a punt following Trau’s field goal, giving the ball back to the Spiders’ offense on their own 25-yard line. Richmond elected to switch quarterbacks, with third-year redshirt quarterback Kevin Johnson taking over for Chenault. Johnson was unable to capitalize on the turnover, commiting one himself on the first snap of the ensuing drive. Looking for fourth-year wide receiver Jarmal Bevels on a crossing route, Johnson fired the ball into tight coverage, and fourth-year defensive back Jeffrey DeVaughn capitalized on that tight coverage, ripping the ball out of Bevels’ hands for the interception.

Ferguson marched back onto the field with his offense, completing a five-play, 36-yard drive resulting in another touchdown pass to Edwards in the back of the end zone. Neither team was able to muster a true offensive effort for the rest of the quarter, with the closest offensive effort being a missed field goal from Maine’s second-year kicker Kenny Doak from 45 yards out.

Richmond received a length Doak kickoff to begin the second half, and their offense was moving quite strongly until third-year defensive lineman Kayon Whitaker forced a fumble from Spiders’ fourth-year running back Gordon Collins. The fumble was recovered by Maine’s third-year linebacker Taji Lowe, allowing Ferguson and the offense to set up shop on Richmond’s 45-yard line.

Ferguson’s aerial mastery, paired with a strong drive from first-year running back Ramon Jefferson, resulted in an 11-play, 46-yard drive capped off with a beautiful 15-yard dime from Ferguson to Wright, all but sealing the game up with the score being 28-3 and under 20 minutes left to play in the game.

The Spiders fought valiantly, completing two more drives for field goals, but lacked the offensive firepower and cohesiveness as a unit to stand a chance against the “Black Hole” defense.

The Black Bears, now sitting with a record of 7-3, and a conference record of 6-1, have confirmed the split of the CAA conference title, and will head into their last game of the regular season at home on Nov. 17 against Elon University with playoff hopes on the line.

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