April 05, 2020

UM players, staff give support to Villanova player

The fighting that broke out during Saturday’s Miami-Florida International football game was an example of deplorable sportsmanship.

In the aftermath of Saturday’s University of Maine football victory over Villanova, coach Jack Cosgrove and the Black Bears demonstrated that they have the game in the proper perspective.

The harsh reality of college football literally came crashing down on Villanova junior wide receiver Anton Ridley during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Atlantic 10 game against the Black Bears at Alfond Stadium in Orono. While trying to provide pass protection for quarterback Marvin Burroughs, Ridley sustained a broken tibia and fibia in his right leg.

“It was horrific. The best way I can describe it is, Joe Theismann,” Cosgrove said, referring to the gruesome, career-ending broken leg suffered in 1985 by the former Washington Redskins quarterback.

“It was awful,” he added. “You try to keep composure and keep your kids calm, but it’s the real frightening part of the game we’re in.”

One observer at Morse Field said the breaking bone was audible from the sideline and that some UMaine players were ill and experienced the “dry heaves.”

The training staffs for both teams immediately rushed to Ridley’s aid. After stabilizing the leg with an air splint, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was taken by ambulance to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

“It was kind of traumatizing for everybody,” said Villanova coach Andy Talley. “Jack Cosgrove and his staff were terrific. The medical people at Maine did a fabulous job.”

Talley said Ridley underwent surgery on the leg Saturday night to have the bone reset and a stabilizing rod inserted.

Villanova athletics spokesman Dean Kenefick said Monday night doctors have told Ridley he should be able to make a full recovery and be ready to participate in spring workouts.

“For as bad as it appeared to be at one time, we couldn’t have had a better ending than what’s played out,” Kenefick said.

A member of the Villanova training staff has remained in Bangor to accompany Ridley, who is expected to return to Philadelphia today after being released from EMMC.

On Sunday, with Ridley laying in a hospital bed, he received visits from UMaine players and coaches.

“We just tried to do the right thing [Sunday] for a young man that was a long way from home,” Cosgrove said. “He needed some support. A couple of big groups [of players] went up to see him and spent some time with him.”

The contingent took Ridley some Kentucky Fried Chicken and Cosgrove’s son Matthew gave him an issue of Sports Illustrated in the hope of lifting his spirits.

“He [Ridley] really felt great that those kids would go over to see him,” Talley said. “The sportsmanship from the Maine people was just fantastic.”

Cosgrove said that in the course of his conversation with the player from Laurel, Del., he discovered Ridley and his children have something in common.

“He’s a twin and I have twins [Matthew and Carly, 11] and their birthday’s the same day. How about that?” Cosgrove said.

Talley paid Cosgrove and UMaine a final compliment.

“They play great football, hard-nosed football, and have a lot of class as well,” Talley said. “We appreciate it.

“It was tough for us to lose a terrific player like that and also lose the game, but football’s one of those sports, it’s just a great primer for life.”

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