UMaine quarterback Chris Ferguson will miss the rest of the season after suffering a foot injury that will require surgery. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

University of Maine starting quarterback Chris Ferguson will miss the rest of the season with an injury to his right foot.

Ferguson, a junior, was injured on a quarterback sneak in the first quarter of Maine’s 24-17 loss to Richmond on Oct. 12. Initially believed to be a sprain, the injury turned out to include ligament damage to the middle of his foot that will require surgery, said Maine Coach Nick Charlton. Recovery will take 5 to 7 months.

Freshman Joe Fagnano will be the starter for the Black Bears (2-5), who play William & Mary in Orono on Saturday. Fagnano was named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week on Monday after completing 25 of 37 passes for 445 yards and five touchdowns last Saturday in his first collegiate start, a 59-44 loss at Liberty.

The severity of Ferguson’s injury wasn’t known until Monday when the foot was re-evaluated.

“We knew it was a possibility,” Charlton said. “We wanted to make sure it was 100 percent before commenting on it.”

Last year, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Ferguson led the Black Bears to a 10-4 record and a spot in the national semifinals for the first time. Entering this season, he was named to the College Football Performance Awards’ Watch List as one of the top 40 offensive players in FCS. Ferguson completed 116 of 201 passes this fall for 1,655 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.

“We don’t need to get into team impact (of Ferguson’s loss),” said Charlton. “Thankfully we have another quarterback that is performing very, very well. The depth of the position is a concern now. Personally it’s hard. Chris is a leader for this team, an unbelievable person.”

Senior wide receiver Earnest Edwards said the team has faith Fagnano can step in and lead the offense.

“I feel like he’s not your average true freshman quarterback,” said Edwards. “He’s smart and knows what he’s doing. He showed it on Saturday.”

Fagnano, who is from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is backed up by a pair of redshirt freshmen: Grant Hartley, of Edward Little High and Auburn, and Ryan Walsh, of Northport, New York.

Hartley is listed as the backup in the team’s depth chart. Walsh made one start and appeared in two games last year. He completed both passes for 12 yards. Walsh suffered an injury to his right hand and missed most of training camp.

“I feel confident in Joe,” said Charlton. “He put up almost 500 yards of offense against an FBS team. That’s impressive. What concerns me is the depth behind him and making sure we take care of him.”

Ferguson is the second Black Bears football captain to be lost to an injury this season. Junior linebacker Deshawn Stevens suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his right leg in the team’s season-opening 42-14 win over Sacred Heart.

Ferguson will continue to work with Fagnano, something he’s done since training camp in August.

“Since Day One, he’s been showing me teaching points,” said Fagnano, who is 6-3 and weighs 215. “It makes it a lot easier when you have someone like that.”

In Saturday’s game, Fagnano set CAA single-game season highs for passing yards (445) and total yards (469). He became just the third Maine quarterback since 2009 to throw for five touchdowns in a game. Ferguson threw five touchdowns in last year’s 55-27 win over Jacksonville State in the FCS second-round playoff game. Chris Treister threw for five in a 41-17 win over Rhode Island in 2009.

Fagnano also earned the New England Football Writers Association Gold Helmet Award for his performance last week.

 

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