Sunday, October 04, 2009

Black Bears drop one to Delaware

 MBRCIL After 2 straight losses and 3 straight road games, the Maine Black Bears football team was looking forward to some home-cooking. Instead of a hearty meal, they ended up with a plateful of mom's leftover meatloaf. Delaware wore down a tired Maine defense in the second half and came out of Alfond Stadium with a 27-17 win over the Black Bears.

“Have to give Jack (Cosgrove) a lot of credit,” said Delaware coach KC Keeler. ”He is doing a great job with a very young team.”

The scoring started in the first quarter when after Maine's first drive ended in a missed field goal, Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin (a transfer from Penn State) found senior wide receiver Mark Duncan on a post pattern for a 79 yard touchdown pass to put the Blue Hens up 7-0. Maine answered later in the period with a beautifully thrown 45 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Warren Smith to wide receiver Desmond Randall to tie the score at seven. The Maine offense, which made the move to Warren Smith as the permanent starting QB last week, really embraced their new passing-based offense, but the balance between the run and pass was left behind in the transition.

“We're passing the ball a lot more than we did a couple of weeks ago,” said Maine head coach Jack Cosgrove after the game. “We aren't running as well as we were at the beginning of the year, though. We lost that balance and we aren't using one to compliment the other right now.”

The second quarter saw Maine stop Delaware on the goal line. Maine's offense stumbled, and Delaware cashed in on decent field position at their own 37 with a seven play, 63 yard drive that took 2:01 seconds off the clock. The drive was capped off by an eight yard Leon Jackson touchdown run with 5:12 left in the first half to put the Blue Hens up 14-7. Maine once again responded, this time with an eight play, 82 yard drive, and Smith's second touchdown pass of the night, this one a nine-yarder to Tyrell Jones, to tie it at 14 going into the half.

“We went into the half tied at 14,” said Cosgrove. “The second half they outplayed us, and the scoreboard showed it.”

Maine got their only points of the second half on the opening drive, as they had a twelve play, 54 yard drive that lasted 5 minutes and 46 seconds. The only problem was the drive stalled at the Delaware 17 yard-line, and the Black Bears had to settle for a 35 yard Jordan Waxman field goal. Smith looked back at that drive as the turning point after the game.

“When we have a drive like that, we have to finish it off with a touchdown,” said Smith. “We have to finish. Tonight it was the difference between winning and losing.”

Delaware's next drive got to the Maine 27 yard line, but a lost fumble gave the Black Bears offense the ball again. Delaware's defense stiffened, and it got the ball back for the dangerous Devlin. Eight plays and 71 yards later, Delaware had a 21-17 lead after Jackson took it in from two yards out. Another Maine three and out led to another long Blue Hens drive, this one eleven plays and 79 yards, but once again the Maine defense stuffed Delaware on a fourth down deep in Black Bear territory, this time at the seven yard line.

“We knew had couldn't let them convert that one,” said sophomore linebacker Donte Dennis, who finished with 23 tackles and a sack. “We wouldn't give in and we stopped them.”

Unfortunately, the Maine offense didn't take advantage, and their drive stalled after six plays and 19 yards. Forced to punt, they gave the ball back to Delaware, and this time the Blue Hens put it away with a ten play, 62 yard drive, which culminated in a 25 yard David Hayes touchdown run on fourth down to give the Blue Hens a 27-17 lead. Warren Smith threw his second interception of the night on the next drive, and it was academic from that point on. Maine has now lost three straight after starting off the year 2-0, and Coach Cosgrove is looking for some answers.

“We've got to do stop doing those little things that keep us from winning games,” said Cosgrove. “(False Starts) on a second and two, just those little things that are holding us back.”

Maine travels to Hofstra next week.


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