Here comes the run.

For the Maine defense, that has been the mantra of the season, and it figures to continue Saturday when the Black Bears visit Towson and standout tailback Darius Victor.

“Victor’s as good a back as I think we’ll face all year,” said Maine coach Jack Cosgrove. “He’s a big, strong, thick kid and he can run through tackles if you don’t wrap him up.”

Victor, a 5-foot-8, 210-pound sophomore, was the understudy to Terrance West a year ago. West led the Tigers all the way to the FCS title game, where they fell to North Dakota State. He is now playing for the Cleveland Browns.

Victor has gained 457 yards and scored four touchdowns in Towson’s 2-2 start, averaging a healthy 6.1 yards per carry. When he’s not running, quarterback Connor Frazier is carrying the ball. He has added 200 yards and two scores on the ground.

For the Black Bears (1-2), this is nothing new. Norfolk State ran 42 times in the season opener, but gained just 67 yards during Maine’s 10-6 victory. In the second game, the Black Bears forced Bryant to abandon the run after picking up only 29 yards. The Bulldogs, though, found success through the air, passing for 301 yards and a late touchdown to knock off Maine, 13-10.

Last week, Boston College of the FBS bullied the Black Bears for 413 yards on the ground, most in the second half, and won going away, 40-10.

Cosgrove said facing run-heavy teams has helped Maine prepare for its test at Towson in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams.

Towson has a new quarterback, tailback and four offensive linemen. Like Maine, the Tigers start one redshirt freshman and one true freshman at the offensive tackle spots.

Both teams have found it difficult to put together long drives. Towson is converting only 24 percent of its third downs; Maine is at a mere 20 percent.

Towson has won its past two games, including a 31-20 victory last week over North Carolina Central.

“There’s a little bit of mojo in the locker room that things are moving in the right direction, and we know why,” said Tigers coach Rob Ambrose, praising his players’ work ethic.

“Those guys got hungry. How they practiced last week, that kind of thing can be contagious in a locker room, especially when you have younger players.”

Frazier has gone the distance at quarterback for Towson, completing a modest 48 of 95 passes for 452 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception.

Meanwhile, the Black Bears plan to continue alternating Dan Collins and Drew Belcher on Saturday, something the coaches began doing against Boston College in an attempt to find a spark for a moribund attack.

Faced with uncertainty on offense, the Black Bear defense knows it must be stout again.

“Every team is going to have great players. You’ve just got to go in and go hard, take them out, let them know that this defense is the best. We don’t care if you’re a good running back or not, we’re still going to come after you,” said Maine safety Davonte Burke.

Burke played much of the Boston College game as the eighth defender in the box, essentially a fourth linebacker. It was an attempt to slow down the Eagles’ powerful running attack, and it worked for a half. He finished with seven tackles, but was beaten for a second-quarter touchdown when he was so fixated on stopping the run that he let a back get loose on a wheel route for an easy touchdown pass.

Still, Cosgrove said Burke will continue to be a key when the Black Bears tangle with running teams like Towson.

“He’s a very confident tackler,” Cosgrove said. “If there’s any doubt in your head about making a tackle, you won’t make it. You just won’t. He exhibits that better than any other safety we have.”

Other changes on Maine’s defense include sliding Patrick Ricard from backup defensive tackle in pass-rushing situations to starting defensive end. Ricard impressed Cosgrove in the Boston College game enough to get the job replacing the injured Michael Kozlakowski.

And redshirt freshman Zachary Hume figures to get more opportunities at outside linebacker or as a standup defensive end on passing downs. Last week, Hume burst through the line to disrupt a Boston College screen pass and force an early interception by linebacker Randy Samuels. It was one of only two turnovers Maine has generated this season.

“They’re just moving me around. I love it. I try to employ my quickness and speed,” said Hume, who is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds but was fast enough to run track at Nashoba Regional High School in Lancaster, Mass.

Burke is looking forward to the challenge posed by Victor and Frazier. He’s the one responsible for filling the cutback lanes of opposing runners.

“I like to tackle,” he said. “If you don’t go hard while tackling, you’re pretty much going to get run over.”

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