Maine football Coach Jack Cosgrove sounded a familiar refrain Monday.

“I didn’t like how we responded in the third quarter,” he said. “The game got away from us.”

He was speaking of the Black Bears’ latest setback, a 41-20 home loss to No. 6 Villanova on Saturday. But he could have been addressing any of Maine’s five games this season.

The Black Bears are 2-3 despite a series of staggeringly poor performances in the second half. Maine has been outscored 62-17 after halftime. They have allowed opponents to pick up 60 first downs while generating only 18.

It’s such a glaring weakness that Cosgrove said he’s going to alter the way his team practices leading up to game day.

“One of the things you find yourself doing during the week with a young team is we probably practice a little bit harder than some. We probably practice a little bit more than some in regards to growing younger players,” Cosgrove said. “It’s at this time of the year that we’ve got to do a better job of cutting back that way. Even though that sounds contrary to what you’re doing in coaching is developing your team. There are a number of players on our football team whose performances have kind of gone down in the second half simply because of the volume of reps that they’re taking.”


Maine held off Norfolk State 10-6 in its opener after leading 7-6 at halftime. Two weeks ago, the Black Bears scored in the final minute to salvage a 27-24 victory at Towson after giving up a 20-10 halftime lead.

On Saturday, Villanova led 21-13 at halftime, then scored on its first two possessions surrounding a Maine three-and-out to take control.

“It’s been obvious that we haven’t responded and played real good second-half football,” Cosgrove said. “We came back and beat Towson, but that was really Towson’s half of the game. We just found a two-minute drill that bailed us out.”

— One player who may not be able to help Maine overcome those problems this week is senior cornerback Axel Ofori Jr., who appeared to injure his shoulder while making a tackle in the third quarter Saturday and missed the remainder of the game. Cosgrove said Monday he had no update on Ofori’s status for this week. “I do not and probably can’t comment right now,” he said.

• • •

It doesn’t get any easier Saturday when Maine visits Stony Brook for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Seawolves are 2-4, but feature the top defense in the Colonial Athletic Association and are coming off a 14-3 win at Towson.


“We are playing great, sound football where we’re really playing our responsibilities well,” Stony Brook Coach Chuck Priore said. “But probably the biggest thing is the pressure we’ve been able to put on the quarterback this year. We’ve created a lot of negative plays, and then we’ve gotten a lot of teams to third down and we’ve been very good in those scenarios of changing field position for our offense.”

Stony Brook had 12 tackles for loss Saturday while dominating the line of scrimmage. That kind of pressure forces offenses to start doubting themselves, Priore said.

“You end up sitting there saying, ‘OK, I can’t run on first down,’ so now you’re throwing the ball and you’re getting incomplete passes. We’re getting a lot of teams in second-and-10, You go back and you try to change the things that you’re doing, you get off your game plan focus. I think our ability to keep them off schedule has really helped us be successful.”

Cosgrove remembers all too well how physical the Seawolves are. Maine needed a fourth-quarter touchdown to escape with a grueling 19-14 win last season.

“You’re hard-pressed to see how they got there (a 2-4 record),” he said. “They look like a hungry, hungry football team and a very talented football team.”

• • •


Rhode Island remains the only winless team in the CAA after a 20-13 loss to Brown on Saturday dropped the Rams to 0-5. It would take a small miracle for them to turn things around this week, with a trip to Villanova on the docket for Saturday.

Coach Jim Fleming was taking little consolation in the fact that Rhode Island had lost its previous four games by at least 17 points before coming up just a touchdown short.

“We’re still unable to consistently run the football and it’s one of the things that’s necessary for us to get better at to be successful going forward,” he said.

As for his message to his players: “You work year-round for 12 guaranteed opportunities and each opportunity to present yourself on a football field is something that we always preach to them that lasts forever. Because it’s on tape, it’s saved, it’s there. What you put down on tape is what you are and what you have to own.

“We could run the table right now and finish with a 7-5 year and it would be an outstanding turnaround and an outstanding story. Obviously, it’s a tough thing to fathom at this point in time with the meat of our schedule coming up.”

After Villanova, Rhode Island travels to No. 22 Richmond. That means the Rams are likely to be 0-7 when Maine comes calling Oct. 25. They’ll either be the hungriest team in the nation, or ready for the season to end.


• • •

Cheverus graduate Donald Goodrich shared CAA rookie of the week honors after leading No. 4 New Hampshire with 54 rushing yards in a 48-14 victory at Elon on Saturday. The York native ran for a touchdown and also caught three passes for 55 yards in the most productive day of his redshirt freshman season.

Part of the reason for the increased workload was an injury to senior Nico Steriti, who is expected to return for this week’s game vs. William & Mary, although in a limited capacity.

Wildcat Coach Sean McDonnell said that will give him four running backs that he’s comfortable giving key carries. But he also said the ground success was a testament to the team’s blocking.

“It goes back to your offensive line,” McDonnell said. “I think they won the physicality at the line of scrimmage. This week it’s very important for us to do that.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.