UMaine cornerback Manny Patterson upends Trevon Bryant of New Hampshire during a game last fall. Patterson, who was a preseason STATS FCS all-America selection this year, suffered a torn ACL during the Black Bears’ victory at Albany on Saturday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The University of Maine defense took another major blow when the team confirmed Tuesday that senior cornerback Manny Patterson will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Patterson, who was a preseason STATS FCS all-America selection and named to the Buck Buchanan Watch List as one of the top 25 defensive players in the Football Championship Subdivision, suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the first half of Maine’s 47-31 victory over Albany last Saturday. It was a noncontact injury, suffered while Patterson was covering an Albany receiver.

An MRI on Monday confirmed the injury. Surgery has yet to be scheduled.

“Manny has meant a lot to this program,” said UMaine Coach Nick Charlton. “He embodies what we try to put across through our culture. He is an elite player who I believe will keep playing at the next level.”

Patterson, who had 29 tackles and five pass breakups this year, is the second major loss to the Black Bears’ defense this year. Middle linebacker Deshawn Stevens was lost for the season after suffering an Achilles injury in Maine’s opener. In addition, junior quarterback Chris Ferguson suffered a season-ending foot injury during a game against Richmond on Oct. 12.

With Patterson out, the Black Bears will rely on two sophomores, Katley Joseph and Shaquille St. Lot, as their starting cornerbacks. Both are experienced: they have 10 starts between them this year, 22 in their careers.

Maine, which has won its last two games, plays at Elon at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Black Bears (4-5 overall, 2-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association) must win their final three CAA games to have any hopes for an FCS playoff berth.

“It’s definitely a hard loss for us,” senior linebacker Taji Lowe said of Patterson’s injury. “But it’s about the next man up. Katley and Shaq have played a lot of football here already. We expect them to take the next step the rest of the season.”

Charlton said Joseph and St. Lot can handle the additional playing time. “They’re very physical and they’re gaining confidence with every snap they take,” he said. “I’m very confident in them.”

St. Lot leads Maine with 10 pass breakups this year, along with his 17 tackles. Joseph has three pass breakups and 29 tackles. Charlton said the two played a strong game against Albany’s potent passing game last week. Joseph had a team-high nine tackles and St. Lot broke up four passes.

“Manny always motivated you to play better, you wanted to match what he was doing on the other side of the field,” said Joseph. “He pushed us to do more all the time. But at the same time, when I signed to come here to Maine, I knew what I would have to do in crunch time. We know what we have to do and that gives us more motivation.”

St. Lot added: “This just means we’ve got to step up our game and play with more confidence, which we did last game. We’ve both been in this position. We’ve just got to take our game to the next level, play to a higher level.”

Both are from Canada – the 20-year-old Katley from Ottawa, the 23-year-old St. Lot from Montreal – and St. Lot feels that gives them a little advantage. “We both speak French,” said St. Lot. “We do it all the time on the field and it makes it easier to communicate. It gives us more confidence, makes it easier to play fast and to a high standard.”

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