On Senior Day, the University of Maine Black Bears defeated the Richmond Spiders 28-9 at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium.
Defensive miscues allowed Maine to dominate Richmond offensively, forcing costly penalties and allowing the Black Bears to capitalize on favorable field position. In the end, Maine took advantage of scoring opportunities while Richmond squandered them.
Head coach Russ Huesman said: “Fifty-fifty balls -- eventually, you [have to] go get them. If we get our hands on the ball, we [have to] have an interception. We’re not getting that done in a lot of different ways there, so that’s disappointing.”
On their first possession, the Black Bears, led by sophomore quarterback Chris Ferguson, quickly drove down the field and converted on a 4-yard pass to wide receiver Earnest Edwards in the first five minutes.
Defense for both teams then clamped down, with the Black Bears forcing a Richmond punt on the Spiders’ first drive, and the Spiders returning the favor, taking over on offense at the Spiders’ 47-yard line at the 5:49 mark.
A pass from quarterback Kevin Johnson to wide receiver Tyler Wilkins resulted in a first down, the Spiders’ first. However, the Spiders’ first touchdown opportunity, an attempted pass from Johnson to wide receiver Caleb Drake, fell just incomplete, resulting in a punt on Richmond’s second drive.
During Maine’s subsequent possession, a controversial third-down completion to Jaquan Blair and a pass interference call on Richmond defensive back Devon Perry led to a touchdown pass to Blair, catapulting Maine to a 14-0 lead with 2:54 to play in the first quarter.
On the Spiders’ next possession, quarterback Reid Chenault took over, completing a pass to receiver Jarmal Bevels and advancing the Spiders down to the 13-yard line. Once the offense stalled after a false start penalty, kicker Griffin Trau converted a 33-yard field goal, cutting Maine’s lead to 14-3 with 13:15 to play in the half.
Chenault said: “It’s always a pleasure to be out on the field playing in a game. The coaches always preach ‘next man up mentality,’ so I wouldn’t say it was a huge surprise when they threw me in. I was ready.”
The Spider defense responded with improved pass coverage, pressuring Maine into several incomplete passes, forcing a three-and-out. Maine quickly responded, as defensive back Jeff DeVaughn intercepted the ball with 11:57 to play, taking over at the Spiders’ 36-yard line.
Taking advantage, Edwards caught yet another touchdown pass, growing Maine’s lead to 21-3 with 9:44 remaining in the first half.
After a series of defensive stands by both teams, Maine took over at its own 38-yard line with 35 seconds remaining in the half. After driving down to the Richmond 28, with no time remaining, the Black Bears attempted a 38-yard field goal that was just wide.
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The Spider defense held Maine scoreless over the visitors' final four drives, going into the locker room trailing 21-3.
To open the second half, a pass interference call on Maine gave the Spiders momentum, but Maine responded, as Black Bears linebacker Taji Lowe quickly recovered a fumble by running back Gordon Collins with 12:39 remaining.
A fourth-down conversion by Maine quarterback Ferguson advanced the Black Bears down to the Spider 24-yard line, and the Black Bears scored their fourth touchdown of the game at the 6:45 mark, on a 15-yard pass to Micah Wright.
With the Black Bears leading 28-3, both offenses sputtered during the next few drives, with fumbles highlighting the defensive efforts.
Richmond’s best opportunity came off of a fumble recovery by Justin Rubin at the Maine 22-yard line with 1:01 remaining in the third quarter. On fourth down, the Spiders attempted a touchdown pass to Drake, but it fell incomplete.
In the fourth quarter with 4:28 remaining, a rejuvenated Spiders offense discovered its second wind. The Spiders went on an eight-play, 75-yard drive and found the end zone on a 7-yard run by Chenault, cutting the lead to 28-9 to finish the game. The two-point-conversion attempt fell incomplete.
The Spiders fell to 3-7, 1-6 in conference play.
Richmond will face the College of William & Mary next Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. in Williamsburg for the final game of the regular reason.
Contact sports writer Cassie Coughlan at email@example.com.
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