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Maine football rebounds from rocky start with narrow win over Albany

With only six games in the spring season, the University of Maine Black Bears cannot afford to waste any time finding a rhythm and gaining momentum. Assuming the team stays on the field and does not have issues with COVID-19, they are poised to be a playoff contender by the season’s end. The Black Bears did not come out of the gates hot, but they were able to rebound in week two, giving hope for faithful Black Bear fans.

It is safe to say that the program got off to their worst start in history when Delaware returned the opening kickoff for an 87-yard touchdown. That is not the way any squad wants to open up the season, especially after having to wait so long to kick things off. After the rough start, Maine could not get anything going on offense, as they continued to punt throughout the first half. A 21-yard score for Delaware put them up 17-0 with just a few minutes before the break, and went into halftime with that hefty lead.

The game certainly was not over as the Black Bears took the field for a second half filled with action, although things didn’t turn in favor of UMaine. While Maine’s defense struggled at times, the offense’s inability to put up points prevented them from staying in the game. Delaware racked up a total of 224 rushing yards on the afternoon. Meanwhile, Maine’s second-year quarterback Joe Fagnano managed to throw for 61 total yards on 23 passing attempts. Maine ended up falling by a final of 37-0, a game fans hoped to forget and move on from.

The second game of the shortened season took place against nationally-ranked Albany. During this game, the Black Bears came out and played with far more purpose and emotion. The first quarter was defined by solid defense from both sides, and Albany led 3-0 after 15 minutes. Fagnano led the offense down the field early in the second quarter and got the team on the board with a rushing touchdown, cutting the deficit to a field goal. On their next possession, the offense continued to roll, as they scored another touchdown via a pass to third-year wide receiver Jacob Hennie, giving Maine their first lead of the season. Maine maintained the lead at the half, leading with a score of 17-13.

This game seemed destined to come down to the very last second. The teams were evenly matched, and both played well on offense for the majority of the game. Fagnano and fourth-year wide receiver Andre Miller carried the offense and led the story of the second half. Rushing yards were just about even between the two teams but the passing attack of Maine helped separate the team and they continuously put points on the board. Fagnano had about 250 pass yards and added four touchdown passes, three of which were caught by Miller, who finished with eight catches for 144 yards. This tandem put the Black Bears on top late in the fourth with a 10-yard score. The two teams broke even in the second half and Fagnano was able to seal the deal with a 4-yard rush on third down. Maine came away with a victory, winning 38-34. Maine showed an ability to focus after a poor initial outing and now has momentum behind them as they look toward next week’s matchup with Stony Brook.


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