May 27, 2020

Ground game producing for Bears Maine hopes to build on victory

The members of the Northeastern University defensive staff must be shaking their heads after watching film to prepare for Saturday’s Colonial Athletic Association game against UMaine.

The Black Bears produced yet another incarnation of their offense Saturday night and ground out a 41-40 double-overtime victory over Hofstra.

With junior Mike Brusko at the helm, UMaine showed off a ground assault that likely turned a few heads. The Bears accounted for 286 rushing yards and 441 total yards.

It was the Bears’ first time eclipsing 400 yards of total offense since a win over Northeastern on Nov. 4, 2006.

The slippery Brusko helped set the tone for the victory by carrying a game-high 19 times for 113 yards and a touchdown.

“The best compliment I can give, he’s a football player,” said UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove. “He’s smart, he’s tough and he’s instinctive.”

Brusko, a 6-foot-3, 226-pounder who has replaced injured sophomore starter Adam Farkes (separated shoulder) also completed eight of 14 passes for 155 yards and two scores.

While Brusko’s abilities were more of a known commodity, it was the play of two redshirt freshman running backs that has UMaine fans excited.

Jared Turcotte of Lewiston again demonstrated his talent and versatility while playing the H-back (hybrid fullback/tight end) position.

The former Fitzpatrick Trophy winner showed off a combination of power and finesse while gaining a career-high 120 yards with a touchdown on 13 carries, a whopping 9.2 yards per attempt. Turcotte also caught five passes for 69 yards and another score and was named the CAA Rookie of the Week for the second time in three games.

“Jared Turcotte has got special ability,” Cosgrove said. “Jared’s a guy who energizes this football team through his play. [He] is a major influence on this football team as a redshirt freshman in terms of how he plays the game.”

Two plays from Saturday’s win speak to his ability. The first was a momentum-building, 71-yard scoring jaunt late in the third quarter.

Turcotte took an inside handoff to the left side, knocked a would-be tackler backward at the point of attack, then cut outside and followed a nifty Landis Williams block to take the ball to the end zone.

“I don’t think I’m very fast, so I’ve got to use my body, my shoulder pads, lower my shoulder and run hard,” the 6-2, 232-pound bruiser said of his affinity for taking on would-be tacklers.

The other play was the game-winning TD. Turcotte had been used as a blocker on the Bears’ first six plays of overtime.

On the first play of the second overtime, he lined up on the right, slipped across the field and got himself free in the left flat. He took a short Brusko pass and, after a slight bobble, secured the ball and ran it into the end zone.

“He’s very physical and that is something that football players feed off,” Cosgrove said. “It’s infectious and it helps our football team.

“He’s fast enough. He doesn’t give himself enough credit.”

The other up-and-comer is tailback Derek Session, who also came into the season as an H-back. The 6-1, 216-pounder continues to develop his running and receiving skills.

Session picked up a career-best 67 yards on 17 carries and scored two touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 46 yards and another score.

Session, who stepped in after a shoulder/neck injury to senior Jhamal Fluellen, combines speed and toughness and often picks up extra yardage with his determined running style.

“It’s really a work-in-progress that’s been fast-forwarded,” he said of Session and Turcotte. “They’ve provided a lot of energy to our football team in a physical way and I think they give us a good inside-outside threat in our run game.”

Saturday marked the first time UMaine had two 100-yard rushers since a Sept. 1, 2007 game against Monmouth.

“I think the biggest thing for us is to take confidence from this [victory] and keep it rolling,” Brusko said.

Blue-White basketball set Sunday

Fans hankering for a dose of basketball can get that prescription filled Sunday at Alfond Arena in Orono.

The UMaine men’s and women’s basketball teams will play their annual Blue-White intrasquad scrimmages, with the women’s team scheduled for a noon tipoff and the men’s team slated to play at 1 p.m.

Admission is free.

The Black Bears, who began practice last Friday, are gearing up for the first of two Nov. 2 exhibition home games. Coach Cindy Blodgett’s women face the University of New Brunswick at noon, while coach Ted Woodward’s men take on Laval University (Quebec) at 3 p.m.

Tickets for UM sports hall on sale

Tickets are on sale for the UMaine Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet scheduled for noon Sunday at the Black Bear Inn in Orono.

Former UMaine stars to be inducted include ice hockey player David Capuano, track and field star Viktoriya Rybalko, former shortstop Russ Quetti, longtime administrator Dr. Rome Rankin, football standout Norm Tardif and distance runner Dereck Treadwell.

John Smist of WLBZ-TV (Ch. 2) in Bangor will emcee the event. Tickets are available by calling 581-2327.


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