In the two days after a gutsy win over a ranked opponent, the University of Maine football team did two things.

First, the Black Bears fielded congratulations, though Maine coach Jack Cosgrove downplayed whatever good wishes he received after Saturday’s 25-24 overtime win at James Madison — a game in which the winning play, Chris Treister’s airborne two-point conversion, was the No. 2 highlight in SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays of the Day on ESPN.

“It’s pretty humbling,” Cosgrove said during Monday’s Colonial Athletic Association teleconference. “We’re going about our business. That’s one of the great things that keeps you grounded.”

Then, the Black Bears evaluated the physical toll Saturday’s win took on the team.

While Maine didn’t suffer any significant injuries during the win, Cosgrove said the Black Bears are at a point in the season when the wear and tear is obvious.

“We’re limping around here, but that’s probably just like everyone else here,” said Cosgrove, whose team hosts Rhode Island at 1 p.m. Saturday at Alfond Stadium. “That’s part of the game, and we have to bounce back. We’re depleted, just like everyone else.”

Against James Madison, the Black Bears (4-1, 2-0 CAA) had to count on their depth after a handful of starters missed time as a result of various hits.

Tailback Pushaun Brown finished with 54 yards on 15 carries and sat out the third quarter after suffering a bruised thigh midway through the second.

In the fourth, linebacker Vinson Givans and safeties Trevor Coston and Jerron McMillian briefly left after hard hits, and wide receiver Derek Session was hit in the chest late in the fourth quarter as he jumped to catch a pass from quarterback Warren Smith, a play that Cosgrove called “a good, clean hit up the middle” by James Madison safety Dean Marlowe.

But at this point of the season, a rash of injuries — whether they are bumps and bruises or season-ending ailments that require surgery — isn’t unique to the Black Bears. It’s something that’s become somewhat of an epidemic at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

“You’re into the grind of midseason,” Rhode Island coach Joe Trainer said. “I think everybody at the I-AA level, where the depth is never where you want it to be, is there. Your starter may be backed up by a Division III kid or a kid who’s not ready to take on that role. If you ask I-AA coaches how they practice at this level, it’s much different than the Patriot League or the Ivy League.”

The Rams (1-4, 0-2) found themselves bitten by the injury bug even before the season began. Tailback Ayo Isijola has not played a game this season because of an ankle sprain, and in Saturday’s 31-23 loss to Old Dominion, the Rams lost All-CAA offensive tackle Jason Foster to heat stroke in the first quarter. Foster had to be hospitalized.

NOTES: Maine is ranked 12th in this week’s The Sports Network/Fathead.com Top 25 poll and 16th in the FCS Coaches Top 25 poll.

Three Black Bears earned weekly honors: Quarterback Warren Smith was named the College Sports Madness FCS National and CAA Player of the Week, tight end Justin Perillo the College Football Performance Awards National Tight End of the Week, and defensive back Jerron McMillian was an honorable mention selection for the College Football Performance Awards National Defensive Back of the Week..


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