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Football falls to UAlbany at home in conference tilt

The University of Maine football team hosted the University at Albany Great Danes on Saturday, Oct 28, losing 37-21. With the defeat, Maine falls to 2-7 overall and 1-5 in conference play. 

Conditions were balmy and bright at Morse Field as the Black Bears received the opening kickoff. After starting their opening trip at their 31-yard line, Maine quickly marched down the field for a four-minute and 15-second drive punctuated by fourth-year quarterback Derek Robertson’s touchdown pass to third-year wide receiver Jamie Lamson. This was Lamson’s fourth touchdown reception of the season and marked the third straight game in which he recorded one. 

Maine forced a punt on UAlbany’s first drive. Still, it couldn’t capitalize on the resulting possession, as they went eleven yards in the wrong direction before a poor punt set UAlbany up with the ball inside Maine territory. 

From there, the Great Danes were quickly able to find the endzone en route to a run of 17 unanswered points.

Maine’s resulting possession did not go according to plan. Down 10-7, the Black Bears had the ball in Albany territory until Robertson fumbled the ball on a strip sack by Brian Abraham, who returned the ball 68 yards for a devastating defensive touchdown. 

Maine bounced back on their next possession, and Robertson found third-year wide receiver Michael Monios in the endzone for his first touchdown reception of the year. Monios’ performance was among the silver linings of Saturday’s game, as the third-year wide receiver from Montreal posted career highs in receptions (10) and receiving yards (96). 

Trailing by only three, Maine’s defense could not keep Albany’s offense at bay. Great Danes quarterback Reese Poffenburger completed a 53-yard touchdown near the end of the half to put a damper on Maine’s hopes for an upset. This drive started another scoring run for UAlbany that carried deep into the second half. 

After allowing twenty unanswered points, Maine found the endzone for the final time in the fourth quarter when first-year running back Tristen Kenan recorded an 11-yard receiving touchdown from Robertson. 

Saturday marked Kenan’s first in-game reps since October 7, when he left Maine’s game vs. Richmond with an injury. 

Robertson finished 29-43 for 220 yards. He threw three touchdowns and two interceptions, as well as coughing up the ball for the Great Danes’ scoop-and-score. 

“It’s 100% on me,” said Robertson in Saturday’s press conference. “You can’t turn the ball over.  It puts the whole team in an awful spot. I can’t do that, and I have to be a lot better.”

Despite what he may think, it’s evident that Robertson does not deserve 100% of the blame for Saturday’s defeat. Maine’s defense allowed 324 passing yards and 149 rushing yards. The Great Danes could also complete multiple passes of greater than 50 yards.

Additionally, Maine’s struggling special teams unit set Albany up with a short field multiple times, which is not a recipe for success on the defensive side of the ball. 

“Honestly, as a defense, we weren’t doing what we were supposed to do.,” said third-year defensive back third-year defensive back Kahzir “Buggs” Brown at Saturday’s postgame press conference. “We just have to do a better job at executing our plays and just locking in our technique.”

The somber feel of the press conference reflected the attitude of a dejected team. It’s evident that group morale has been on a steady decline throughout the season, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that these losses are beginning to frustrate the Black Bears. 

“Obviously, you want to get the turnovers back,” said head coach Jordan Stevens on the loss. “We didn’t execute well enough throughout the entire game to win.”

This is Steven’s second year as the program’s head coach. Saturday’s defeat brings his record with the Black Bears to 4-16 overall, including a 3-9 record against CAA opponents. 

The Black Bears won’t contend for the conference title this year, but the final two games of their regular season certainly have stakes. Next Saturday, Maine will host the Hampton University Pirates, who were outscored 108-13 by their opponents over their last two games. 

Last year, Maine was able to defeat Hampton on the road in what was one of their two wins on the season. 

After Hampton, Maine will have a bye week before going on the road to take on the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. 

The Black Bears will be playing with a chip on their shoulder, as they narrowly lost at home to UNH last year on a two-point conversion attempt in overtime. 

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