ORONO — Every week in the Colonial Athletic Association is a challenge, according to Joe Harasymiak.

And his University of Maine football defensive players took this one personally. Playing against one of the most prolific passing offenses in the CAA, the Black Bears responded Saturday with an impressive 28-9 win over Albany at chilly and snowy Alfond Stadium.

Given a lead nine seconds into the game after Chris Ferguson hit Earnest Edwards with a 77-yard touchdown pass, Maine’s defense overwhelmed the Great Danes, holding Albany to 113 yards of total offense.

“Great team win,” said Harasymiak. “It makes us have a meaningful November.”

The win lifted Maine to 5-3 overall, 4-1 in the CAA with a game at Towson (6-2, 4-1 CAA after Saturday’s loss to Delaware) next Saturday. Albany dropped to 2-6, 0-5.

Maine’s offense put together a great complementary game, with Ferguson passing for 244 yards and a touchdown, and the Black Bears rushing for 111, led by Ramon Jefferson’s 93 and a touchdown.

But it was the defense that stood out. Albany, which entered the game with the third-best passing offense in the CAA (averaging 272.3 yards per game) had just 62 passing yards as three quarterbacks – starter Vincent Testaverde and backup Will Brunson both left with injuries – completed just 10 of 30 passes. And Albany gained just 51 rushing yards.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” said defensive end Kayon Whitaker, who had 2.5 of Maine’s five sacks.

Maine, upset by William & Mary a week ago, also had one interception, by Darrius Hart off Testaverde to stop the Danes’ first drive, at the Maine 15.

“On paper, a couple of the last few games, we haven’t had our best games in the secondary,” said Hart, who made seven tackles. “So I feel like every game is a challenge for us in the secondary. We just wanted to play with confidence this week. They’re one of the top offenses in our conference so we wanted to make a statement on our DB group as well.”

“They didn’t do anything different than what we expected,” said Albany running back Karl Mofor, who rushed for 68 yards. “They were running around, making tackles and making plays.”

And the offense certainly jump-started the win. With first down at the Maine 23, Ferguson looked up and saw the speedy Edwards matched up with a linebacker. At the snap Edwards ran into the left seam, caught the pass at about midfield, split the two safeties and eased into the end zone. Nine seconds in, after Kenny Doak’s PAT kick, it was 7-0.

Ferguson scored on a 1-yard sneak with 4:34 left in the first, that touchdown set up by a 15-yard completion to Andre Miller, the former Old Town High standout. Miller, playing for the injured Micah Wright, caught three passes for 64 yards.

Jefferson scored on a 6-yard run late in the second to give Maine a 21-0 lead at the half. Albany cut the lead to 21-9 but Maine responded with a clinching drive. Drew Belcher, the former quarterback-now-tight-end, took a pitch from Ferguson to the right and pulled up to pass to Julian Dunn, who made a sliding catch for the 5-yard touchdown with 7:55 remaining in the game.

“It was a great team effort,” said Harasymiak. “And certainly we needed this one. We had a great week of practice, especially Thursday, and you saw that come out.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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