CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Saturday’s game between the University of Maine and 25th-ranked Boston College had all the potential for a blowout.
As they had done in their previous two contests against Division I-A opponents, the Black Bears more than held their own.
However, “big-time” size and speed prevailed as Boston College earned a modest 22-0 victory over Division I-AA Maine in front of 41,162 fans at sun-soaked Alumni Stadium.
“[It’s] what I thought was a good effort by our guys to match up with them, a top-25 football program,” said UMaine coach Jack Cosgrove. “It’s going to help our football team in a lot of components, especially the toughness component.”
Boston College (4-1, ranked 25th in the USA Today coaches poll) limited the Bears to 148 total yards and caused four turnovers to keep UMaine (2-2) from making any serious scoring threats. The visitors also committed some costly penalties that slowed their progress.
“I thought that our defense played exceptionally well today,” said BC coach Tom O’Brien. “Maine came in and did a nice job. I think they had a good plan with what they tried to do.”
The Bears’ deepest penetration was to the BC 27-yard line in the first quarter, which ended with an Arel Gordon fumble. UMaine only penetrated BC territory four times, despite coming away with a nearly six-minute advantage in time of possession.
“We didn’t win that [turnover] battle today,” said Cosgrove, whose Bears were plus-three in turnovers against both Mississippi State in 2004 and Nebraska last season.
UMaine contained a balanced BC offense, giving up only 339 total yards. Strong safety Daren Stone led the way with 5.5 tackles and a forced fumble, while safety Alex Goyins added five tackles and a fumble recovery.
BC quarterback Matt Ryan completed 15 of 26 passes for 182 yards, but did not have a touchdown. Andre Callender rushed for 76 yards on 11 tries, including a 25-yard TD.
The Bears came away with increased confidence because of the way they competed against BC’s superior size and speed.
“We knew the odds were against us,” said Gordon, who caught seven passes for 37 yards but rushed for only 24 yards on 12 carries.
“Not necessarily harder, but they happened a lot sooner,” he said of BC’s tackles. “The speed of the game was the biggest difference to me.”
A nine-play, 80-yard BC scoring march late in the third quarter ended any suspense that might have existed. Brian Toal’s 1-yard dive with 3:14 to play made it 22-zip.
“We didn’t quit. I like the way that we finished the game,” said UMaine senior and Massachusetts native Matt King. “It’s bad that we got the loss, but we came out and we fought hard for four quarters and that says a lot about the guys we have on this team.”
UMaine trailed only 15-0 at halftime, despite struggling through a spate of turnovers and penalties that prevented them from keeping it even closer.
The Bears lost two fumbles, threw an interception and had a punt blocked while incurring four penalties for 40 yards.
“There’s no question that we didn’t execute at times, especially in the first half,” Cosgrove said. “There were some penalties early I thought that hurt us, knocked some wind out of our sails a little bit.”
The Eagles took a 3-0 lead on their first possession after King’s sack of Ryan helped force BC to kick a field goal. Ryan Ohliger made a 29-yarder barely three minutes into the contest.
UMaine then put on a solid offensive showing that enabled them to run the next 15 plays from scrimmage. That streak was extended when Ryan Callahan forced punt returner DeJuan Tribble to fumble.
However, two penalties and two fumbles during the same span prevented the Bears from getting on the scoreboard.
The hosts made it 5-0 with 11:07 left in the first half. After a botched handoff on a reverse pinned UMaine deep, a high punt snap led to Clarence Megwa’s blocked punt. The Bears’ Jamaal Forman recovered but was tackled in the end zone for the safety.
After the ensuing free kick, BC quickly marched 57 yards on six plays, sparked by Ryan’s 15-yard, third-down scramble. Callender’s 25-yard scoring run and Ohliger’s PAT gave the Eagles a 12-0 advantage with 8:57 left in the half.
The Bears began to generate a bit of offensive rhythm on their next possession, but it was broken by Mark Herzlich’s diving interception of a Whitcomb pass at the BC 29-yard line.
BC answered with an Ohliger 30-yard field goal.
EAGLES 22, BLACK BEARS 0
Maine (2-2) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Boston College (4-1) 3 12 7 0 – 22
BC – Ohliger 29 field goal
BC – Safety, Forman tackled in end zone
BC – Callender 25 run (Ohliger kick)
BC – Ohliger 30 field goal
BC – Toal 1 run (Ohliger kick)
First downs 11 17
Rushing att.-yards 38-66 31-148
Passing comp.-att. 16-23 18-29
Passing yards 82 191
Total yards 148 339
Punts-avg. 8-35.4 2-38.0
Fumbles-lost 5-3 2-2
Intercepted by 0 1
Penalties-yards 5-42 2-19
Maine: Brusko 4-32, Whitcomb 17-32, Gordon 12-24, King 1-7, Randall 1-(minus 9), Callahan 3-(minus 20); BC: Callender 11-76, Ryan 6-36, Crane 2-18, Whitworth 8-14, Brooks 2-3, Toal 1-1, Smith 1-0
Maine: Whitcomb 15-22-1-77, Brusko 1-1-0-5; BC: Ryan 15-26-0-182, Crane 3-3-0-9
Maine: Gordon 7-37, Pierre 3-21, Callahan 3-17, Fluellen 3-7; BC: Whitworth 4-38, Challenger 3-36, Gonzalez 2-22, Ross 2-6, Megwa 2-5, Sele 1-30, Callender 1-29, Thompson 1-11, Palmer 1-11, Purvis 1-3