ORONO — As the University of Maine’s football team climbs in the national rankings after its 2-0 start, the folks who run its Twitter account are trying some creative ways to boost its profile.

Game videos, inside-looks at the Black Bears’ locker room, updates on former Black Bears in the NFL and, yes, some snarky tweets have popped up recently. Then came Tuesday.

Early Tuesday afternoon the University of Central Florida tweeted out that its game Saturday at North Carolina was canceled because of Hurricane Florence. A year ago, Maine had a game with Central Florida – which went 13-0 and staked a claim to the national title – canceled because of a scheduling conflict caused by Hurricane Irma.

Soon after UCF’s announcement came this tweet from, Maine’s @BlackBearsFB account:

“Hey UCF

“We’re sorry to hear that your game is cancelled this weekend. Still waiting to hear about the makeup date from our 2017 cancellation …

“We have an open date this Saturday at Alfond Stadium.

“Whad’ya say, National Champs?”

Woof. The Black Bears calling out mighty UCF?

That wasn’t the intention of Ryan Long, an Athletic Communications Assistant who runs the Twitter account with Tyson McHatten, Maine’s senior associate director of athletics – external operations.

“More people are looking at our Twitter this season,” said Long. “It was an opportunity to capitalize on that and help boost our social media presence.”

It worked. Since it appeared it has been retweeted over 2,100 times and liked over 9,800 times – both numbers continuing to grow throughout Wednesday – and the @BlackBearsFB account gained a couple hundred followers, pushing it over the 10,000 mark. The tweet elicited over 200 replies, including one from @UCF_Football that included a video of several of its players posing with arms folded across their chests and the message, “You don’t want this smoke. (with a winking smiley face).”

The Twitter account has received a big boost since the Black Bears beat Western Kentucky – a larger Football Bowl Subdivision team – 31-28 Saturday to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2013. Maine is ranked 17th and 20th in the two Football Championship Subdivision national polls.

According to Long, the account is averaging 312,700 impressions per day on Twitter. An impression is when a tweet shows up on someone’s timeline. Tuesday’s tweet has surpassed 1 million impressions.

Many of the Black Bears enjoyed the tweet. “It was a good laugh,” said senior wide receiver Micah Wright. “And it was funny to see how they responded.”

Senior safety Jeff DeVaughn said he would like to see UCF take the bait. “I thought it was very, very funny,” he said. “It was a good one.”

Then he added, “If they come up here, we’d have to play them. I’d have no problem with that. That would be a very big community thing for the town of Orono.”

Coach Joe Harasymiak kind of shrugged when asked about the tweet. “It was all in good fun,” he said. “Tyson and his crew put it together. And it got a lot of attention. So I guess that’s good.”

NOTES: Maine has a bye this week and next plays at Central Michigan, another FBS team, at 3 p.m. Sept. 22. Saturday’s win over WKU, in which Maine rallied from a 21-0 deficit, was the Black Bears third over an FBS program. The Chippewas are 0-2 heading into Saturday’s game with Northern Illinois, having lost at Kentucky (35-20) and at home to Kansas (31-7) – the Jayhawks snapping a 46-game road losing skid that dated to 2009 … Maine’s defense is leading the way in the early season. Maine leads the FCS in sacks per game (6.0) and red-zone defense (0.0 percent), is tied for 10th in tackles for loss per game (9.5) and is 14th in total defense (248.5 yards per game) … The Black Bears expect to be healthy for the Central Michigan game. Wide receiver Earnest Edwards, who left the Western Kentucky game with a hip pointer after the first offensive series, had X-rays that were negative; center Chris Mulvey had the stitches removed from his right hand; linebacker Jaron Grayer (knee) was back at practice on Wednesday; linebacker Taji Lowe (eye) is seeing a doctor on Monday and is expected to be cleared to play … Tight end Michael Laverriere, of Arundel and Thornton Academy, has also been cleared to resume practice after offseason shoulder surgery. “It’s now just a matter of working him back in,” said Harasymiak.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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