Consistency is what University of Maine first-year football coach Joe Harasymiak will be seeking when his Black Bears return to Colonial Athletic Association play against the University of Delaware on Saturday in Newark, Delaware.
UMaine’s 35-31 come-from-behind victory over Bryant University (Rhode Island) last Saturday was a microcosm of the Black Bears’ season.
UMaine spotted Bryant a 21-0 lead before rallying in the second half to pick up its first win.
In the season-opening 24-21 loss to Football Bowl Subdivision school UConn, UMaine led 21-14 with 9:56 left in the game. In the 45-3 loss to Toledo, UMaine trailed just 10-3 with 3:30 remaining in the first half. And the James Madison game saw the Black Bears holding a 20-17 lead with 13:15 left in regulation before losing 31-20.
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“We’ve definitely got to play the full 60 minutes,” said senior quarterback Dan Collins, who has also been plagued by inconsistency. “We’re looking to put it all together.”
University of Maine (1-3 overall, 0-1 in CAA) at Delaware (2-2, 0-1), 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Delaware Stadium, Newark, Delaware: UMaine has won the last three meetings and will be facing a Delaware team that is coming off a 43-20 loss to nationally-ranked James Madison in which it racked up 437 yards of total offense, including 312 rushing yards, but surrendered 607 yards of total offense.
Harasymiak said the fact Delaware gave up 607 yards “gives us confidence.”
“We’re going to have to run the ball to be effective,” he said.
Delaware is second in the CAA in rushing, averaging 259.8 yards per game behind Thomas Jefferson (52 rushes for 316 yards), Wes Hills (28-291) and Jalen Randolph (40-267). Hills (1,412 yards), Randolph (1,365) and Jefferson (1,206) are ranked 35th, 38th and 47th, respectively, among Delaware’s all-time leading rushers.
Delaware Coach Dave Brock said his Blue Hens will have their hands full with UMaine.
“You look at what they’ve done … they played two FBS schools to start the year, and that’s brutal. It’s tough to get off to a good start in that environment,” he said.
“They played JMU tougher than we did. They got off to a tough start against Bryant, but you saw their resolve. That’s a hallmark of their program. They battle, they put their heads down, and they play physical, tough football. They clawed their way back, and that will give them an incredible amount of momentum coming into this week.”
He added that UMaine is “really physical on defense” and called defensive lineman Pat Ricard, linebacker Christophe Mulumba-Tshimanga and cornerback Najee Goode “elite players.”
Richard was the CAA Defensive Player of the Week as he had eight tackles, 3.5 for loss and a career-high three sacks vs. Bryant. Mulumba-Tshimanga has been involved in a team-leading 44 tackles.
Collins has completed 57-of-112 passes for 768 yards but has thrown more interceptions (6) than touchdown passes (4).
Delaware returned players who accounted for 99.6 percent of its rushing yards and 100 percent of its passing offense from last year.
Blue Hen quarterbacks Joe Walker and Blake Rankin have completed just 41.8 percent of their passes. Diante Cherry is Delaware’s top receiver (15-211 yards).
Linebackers Charles Bell and Troy Reeder are Delaware’s top tacklers with 23 each.
Gallaudet (1-3, 0-1 in ECFC) at Husson University (3-1, 1-0), 1 p.m. Saturday, Winkin Sports Complex, Bangor: Husson has won the last two games in the series against its Eastern Collegiate Football Conference rival after losing the previous five meetings. Husson triumphed 54-8 last season. Gallaudet is coming off a 42-18 loss to Becker in which Gallaudet held Becker to 271 total yards but turned the ball over seven times.
Freshman quarterback Timel Benton is the Bisons’ leading rusher with 230 yards on 58 carries, and he has completed 16 of 43 passes for 293 yards. Freshman Spencer Maples has carried the ball 14 times for 116 yards, caught six passes for 109 yards and is averaging 27.7 yards per kickoff return. Husson has won three straight and is averaging just over 37 points per game behind junior running back John Smith (119 rushes-750 yards, seven receptions-152 yards) and sophomore quarterback Corey Brandon (56-for-100 passing, 668 yards). Linebacker Ellis Throckmorton (28 tackles) and defensive lineman Luke Washburn (27, seven sacks) pace the Husson defense.
Other games: Wesleyan (1-1) at Colby (1-1), 1 p.m., Waterville; Williams (0-2) at Bates (0-2), 1 p.m., Lewiston; Tufts (2-0) at Bowdoin (0-2), 2 p.m., Brunswick.