ORONO — Middle linebacker Donte Dennis had the angle. He had the speed. He had quarterback Marcus Wasilewski 5 yards from the end zone.

Dennis reached out and lightly tapped both hands against the red jersey of Wasilewski, who continued across the goal line and performed a celebratory flying side bump with a teammate, leaving Dennis standing at the 5 with arms out wide.

“I’m being nice,” Dennis said later with a smile on his face. “Don’t try to take my niceness for a weakness! I touched him. Everybody’s celebrating, but it was alright. I had him.”

The University of Maine football team spent a little more than an hour after practice Monday afternoon for its first intrasquad scrimmage of training camp on the artificial turf of Morse Field. The offense wore blue, the defense white and only Wasilewski donned the hands-off red.

His competition for the starting quarterback job, fellow junior John Ebeling, wore a blue jersey with No. 11 because he also ran plays as a slot receiver.

“There were some highlights, but there were some mistakes,” said Dennis, a fifth-year senior. “I’m happy we made mistakes, because we can learn from them.”

Dennis had plenty of time to learn last year as he recovered from Tommy John surgery on his elbow, missing the entire season after leading the Black Bears in tackles the two previous years.

Eventually, he was able to practice and perform with the scout team, but Dennis never received clearance to play with the other members of his incoming class, who wound up leading Maine to a 9-4 season and NCAA quarterfinal appearance.

“I don’t know how Donte got through last year and kept his sanity,” said head coach Jack Cosgrove. “He was attached at the hip to (fellow linebacker and roommate) Vinson Givans, and he was very close with (safeties Trevor) Coston and (Jerrod) McMillian and all those guys. But he had to sit out.”

Dennis took the year as a medical red shirt and is now one of the leaders of a defense that appears strong on the outside (with experienced linebackers, ends and cornerbacks) but unproven up the middle (with new interior linemen and safeties).

In Monday’s scrimmage, the first-team defense allowed only one touchdown, on the opening drive, and stood strong when the offense began in the red zone and near the goal line.

With regular kicker Brian Harvey unavailable because of injury, sophomore Jeffrey Ondish kicked field goals of 21, 22 and 39 yards. Freshman Sean Decloux was 1-of-2 in field goal attempts, successful from 20 yards but wide left from 37.

There were two touchdowns. The first came on a 5-yard run by David Hood to cap a 65-yard drive engineered by Wasilewski.

The other touchdown came on the last of roughly 60 plays run from scrimmage. Freshman quarterback Daniel Collins showed a strong arm by rifling a 25-yard pass between two defenders to fellow freshman Jordan Dunn. Collins completed 3 of 5 passes on the 55-yard scoring drive, but he’s not in competition for the starting job.

For that, both Wasilewski and Ebeling showed some strengths as well as some areas of improvement. Wasilewski completed 6 of 8 passes for 95 yards. He was also sacked three times, intercepted once (by cornerback Darlos James) and lost a fumble on a snap.

“The first drive was very crisp,” Wasilewski said. “When you come out like that at the beginning of a game, that sets a tone.”

As for the interception, Wasilewski saw man-to-man coverage on Maurice McDonald and figured he’d take his chances.

“Darlos made a heck of a play,” Wasilewski said. “Credits to him for playing great defense.”

Ebeling completed 7 passes in 15 attempts for 100 yards. He also was intercepted (by freshman Javar Coleman) and showed some scrambling ability.

“I did some good things, I did some bad things,” Ebeling said. “There’s a lot of things I can work on and take from watching the tape and get better.”

Ebeling’s interception came on his final pass after he had plucked a low shotgun snap from the turf. His best pass was of 20 yards to Derrick Johnson to convert a 3rd-and-16 into a first down.

Maine opens the season Sept. 8 at Boston College.

Notes: A new paved path runs between the stadium and the fieldhouse and connects the recreation center with the hockey rink. Not surprisingly, it bears the name of the state’s biggest sports benefactor: Alfond Way. . . . The Paul A. Mitchell Batting Pavilion will be dedicated today. Connected to the Mahaney clubhouse, the handsome brick structure features sliding 10-foot mahogany doors, wide windows and two tunnels, one of them housing a video pitching simulator controlled by a computer that can mimic left-handed or right-handed hurlers. “I can sit back there on that computer and throw 90 on your hands or an 84 mile-an-hour curveball,” said Steve Trimper, head baseball coach. “And it’s accurate within about a millimeter.” Trimper said Maine is one of only about 20 college baseball programs in the country to have the simulator. That includes national powerhouse Clemson, whose head coach Jack Leggett stopped by to visit earlier this month. A 1976 graduate of Maine, Leggett snapped photos and sent them to his athletic director along with a suggestion that Clemson get a simulator as well.

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