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Maine Athletics | August 31, 2018

FCS football: Maine defeats No. 7 New Hampshire in dominant season opener

ORONO, Maine -- The University of Maine football team (1-0, 1-0 CAA) regained the Brice-Cowell Musket with a convincing 35-7 victory over No. 7 New Hampshire (0-1, 0-1 CAA) in Thursday evening's season opener at Alfond Stadium.

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Chris Ferguson finished his evening 21-for-31 for 199-yards and two touchdowns. Ferguson found eight receivers, led by Drew Belcher's game-high five receptions. Micah Wright, Earnest Edwards and Jaquan Blair, who tallied 70-yards, each hauled in touchdown receptions.

In all, the Black Bears controlled all aspects of the contest. Maine outgained the Wildcats 454 to 108 with 203-yards coming on the ground. The Black Hole defense suffocated New Hampshire's rush attack, limited the Wildcats to -15 yards of rush offense.

Several Black Bears shined on the defensive side of the ball, as the unit totaled 12.0 tackles for loss. Four Black Bears tallied at least 2.0 tackles for loss, led by senior Sterling Sheffield who capped off the season opener with 2.0 sacks and 3.0 TFLs. Deshawn Stevens led the way with eight tackles, 2.0 for loss, and a fumble recovery. Taji Lowe added seven stops, 2.0 for loss, while preseason all-conference pick Kayon Whitaker added five tackles. Manny Patterson featured four tackles and two pass breakups.

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Maine, which finished the night a perfect 4-for-4 in the red zone, completed the opener with no turnovers.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Black Bears exploded for 22-points in the second. Maine held New Hampshire scoreless over the opening 47:13, holding a 29-0 lead before the Wildcats were able to get on the board.

SCORING RUNDOWN:

  • Micah Wright completed a 12-play, 88-yard drive with his 16th career touchdown, a beautiful 6-yard reception in the corner of the end zone.
  • Maine extended its lead to 9-0 with 9:27 remaining in the half. New Hampshire, looking to punt from its own 36, snapped the ball over its punters head and into the end zone for a safety.
  • On the ensuing drive, a 12-yard rush by Ramon Jefferson set up a 17-yard rushing score from Edwards, who high-stepped it into the end zone to give Maine a 16-0 lead.
  • The Black Bears put together a late, eight play, 99-yard drive, ending when Ferguson found Edwards for an 11-yard score with 10-seconds left in the half.
  • Maine's second drive of the second half ended with a trick play for a score. A double-reverse ended with former quarterback Drew Belcher hitting Blair, who made an incredible grab, for a 52-yard touchdown. The Black Bears lead swelled to 29-0 with 10:43 left in the third quarter.
  • The Wildcats got on the board early in the fourth quarter when Christia Lupoli hit Carlos Washington for a 62-yard score.
  • Maine answered shortly after. The Black Bears marched 55-yards, with all nine plays coming on rushing attacks by Joe Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick capped off the drive by hurdling a defender on his way to a 14-yard strike.

The Black Bears return to action on Saturday, Sept. 8 when they travel to take on Western Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. live on ESPN+.