July 18, 2019

UM faces adversity on road, on turf against JMU

The University of Maine defense is likely to receive its toughest test of the season, while Maine Maritime Academy and Colby are hoping to get their offenses clicking during Saturday’s college football action involving Maine schools.

Maine (3-2, 2-2 Yankee Conference) at James Madison (3-1, 1-0), 3 p.m., Harrisonburg, Va.

Two words appear to bode ill for UMaine in today’s Yankee Conference game: “artificial turf.”

The Black Bears, 0-for-10 on non-grass surfaces since 1989, are looking to bounce back from last week’s 27-17 loss to Delaware.

With their confidence slightly shaken, their feet feeling out the turf, and memories of last year’s last-minute loss to JMU in the back of their minds, the Bears will try to win on the road.

JMU promises to test the much-improved Maine defense, which has allowed 95.5 fewer yards per game (293) than last season. Ends Todd Williamson (10 sacks) and Jon Gautier (9) lead a pass rush that owns 32 sacks and must be effective to slow down the Dukes.

James Madison’s pass-oriented attack, which features wideout Macey Brooks and quarterback Greg Maddox, could give the Maine secondary a workout. The Dukes have thrown for 247 yards per game.

The Bears need more consistency from sophomore QB Mickey Fein to complement the dynamic tailback duo of Bob Jameson and Andre Pam, who rank third and fifth, respectively, among Yankee Conference rushers while combining for 192 yards per game.

Massachusetts Maritime (1-2, 1-1 NEFC) at Maine Maritime (1-2, 1-1), 1 p.m., Ritchie Field, Castine.

Mike Hodgson’s Mariners sit at the bottom of the New England Football Conference offensive pile, averaging only 99 yards per game.

The loss of starting quarterback Eric Spaulding to a dislocated hip two weeks ago has slowed the unit’s progress, but Ben Larrabbee is hoping to pick up the slack.

“We just need to get a little more consistent,” Hodgson said. “I think our offense was embarrassed about the way they played.”

On the positive side, MMA’s defense has been steady. It ranks second in the league, having given up 193 yards per game, 86 via the run.

Senior strong safety Neil Bolduc has been the heavy hitter, while senior tackle Steve Brown has been a frequent visitor in the opponents’ backfield.

The Buccaneers’ balanced offense features senior quarterback Deron Jozokos, who has averaged 100 yards passing. His top target is sophomore Mike Kelley.

Wesleyan (1-1) at Colby (0-2), 1:30 p.m., Seaverns Field, Waterville.

Colby’s veteran offense has struggled thus far, scoring only two touchdowns in its first two games. The White Mules have not run the ball consistently, instead putting pressure on quarterback P.J. Mattson, who has completed 18 of 36 throws for 244 yards.

The Cardinals, who are coming off a one-point loss to Hamilton, boast the league’s top rusher in Tom Themistocles, who is averaging 113 yards per game. Quarterback Scott Hevesy has completed 28 of 50 throws for 380 yards, giving Wesleyan good balance.

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