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Black Bears’ comeback falls 47 yards short against the Raiders

On Saturday, Aug. 10, 2022, the University of Maine Black Bears faced off against the Colgate University Raiders at Alfond Stadium. After struggling offensively for the first half, the Black Bears were able to make a comeback in the game but fell just short after second-year kicker Cole Baker’s field goal came up short, resulting in the Black Bears 21-18 loss.

“We dug ourselves a hole in the first half just by [making] mistakes offensively, and it really made it hard for us to come back in,” head coach Jordan Stevens said after the game. “Obviously, we came up short, but a lot of positive takeaways from the second half.”

UMaine came into this game off a 41-0 loss to FBS opponent, the University of New Mexico Lobos. This game also marks coach Stevens’ first home game back with his alma mater. Colgate entered this game following a loss to FBS opponent Stanford 41-10, so both teams were eager to try and get their first win.

The game started slow on both sides, with both teams’ offenses failing to get anything in the first quarter. While both offenses were able to gain yards, neither side could keep any momentum. The Black Bears offense had multiple drives stall due to penalties while UMaine’s swarming defense stuffed the Raiders. 

On the Black Bears’ first possession of the quarter during the second quarter, coach Stevens decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 on the Raiders side of the field. Even though UMaine had called for fourth-year quarterback Joe Fagnano one play earlier to run a quarterback sneak, they decided to gamble and hand the ball off to fifth-year running back Elijah Barnwell from deep behind Fagnano, and he was stuffed in the backfield.

After stuffing UMaine on fourth down, the Raiders made the Black Bears pay for not getting the first down on their drive as the Raiders scored after an 11-play drive that ate up over five minutes of the clock in a touchdown run up the middle from second-year quarterback Michael Brescia.

After Colgate was able to score, both offenses could not move the ball effectively for the rest of the half as both teams traded three and outs to end the half with the Raiders clinging to a 7-0 lead in a defensive slugfest.

The beginning of the third quarter did not start any better for the Black Bears as after trading punts with the Raiders, Colgate got the ball with excellent field position, and they quickly capitalized on it on their first play of the drive. Brescia threw a backward pass to fourth-year wide receiver Garrett Oakley who proceeded to throw the football 34 yards downfield to an open first-year wide receiver Brady Hutchinson. This, along with a 15-yard run from Brescia, set up a one-yard rushing touchdown from Brescia to give the Raiders a 14-0 lead with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter.

After giving up another touchdown the Black Bears finally responded with a 10-play 60-yard drive that got UMaine all the way down to the 15-yard line. This was thanks to a very good efficiency by Fagnano down the field and a 17-yard connection to second-year wide receiver Tyrese Baptiste. However, the Black Bears stalled and were forced to kick a field goal for their first points of the season. This brought the score to 14-3.

After forcing a punt from the Raiders, UMaine was able to start with a fantastic field position. Starting at their own 45, Fagnano was able to hit fourth-year tight end Shawn Bowman with back-to-back passes going for 11 and 28 yards to end the quarter. Two plays later, the Black Bears benefited from a pass interference penalty that set them up with first and goal, and two plays later, Fagnano ran in UMaine’s first touchdown of the season from six yards out, cutting the Raiders’ lead to just four.

It took only five drives before a team scored again, but this time, it was by the Raiders. They spread five receivers out wide as a decoy and called for Brescia to run it in himself. The middle was wide open, and Bresica easily scored from 68 yards out, giving Colgate a 21-10 lead.

Just like the last time the Raiders scored, UMaine responded with a 10-play 75-yard drive that resulted in Fagnano finding third-year receiver Montigo Moss in the endzone from seven yards out. The Black Bears went for two, hoping to get a chance for a field goal in the future, and Fagnano found fifth-year receiver Zavier Scott in the endzone, making the score 21-18.

UMaine got the football back after forcing yet another punt from Colgate, and they were able to move back down the field. The Black Bears only had one timeout left and decided to drive the ball. This decision came back to haunt UMaine as Baker’s kick from 44 yards out to tie the game came up short on fourth down and the Black Bears dropped their second game 21-18.

After having a subpar first half, Fagnano was able to settle in and helped the Black Bears turn around the offense in the second half, with him going 25-39 for 246 yards and one touchdown. Barnwell got the bulk of the carries with 17 carries for 66 yards while also leading the team in receiving with five catches for 31 yards.

“We have to learn from the first half and really build on the second half,” coach Stevens said, reflecting on today’s game. “I think we have a lot of pieces here to be successful.”

UMaine will travel to face FBS opponent Boston College next Saturday, Sept. 17, at 7:30.

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