Sunday, October 16, 2011
It had been about four years since I'd attended a Black Bear football game and given how well the team has been playing thus far this season, I decided to head on up to Orono to see them take on the Rhode Island Rams. The previous two weeks had seen the Black Bears defeat #5 Delaware in convincing fashion, followed by a dramatic win over top 10 James Madison. You may have seen the highlight where Maine scores a touchdown in overtime but instead of kicking the extra point to tie the game, they go for the two-point conversion, with the quarterback helicoptering into the end zone to win the game.
So I was looking for a solid win over the Rams on Saturday. The Black Bears dominated much of the first half but inconsistent play and penalties resulted in them only scoring two touchdowns and leading 14-0 at the half. The Black Bears came out and scored an early touchdown in the second half to go up 21-0 but their play was still inconsistent, the Rams made some excellent adjustments and Maine had to hold on for a 27-21 win. Still satisfying though...I got what I came to see. Go Black Bears!
A few side stories: As I'm standing in line to buy my ticket (nice Homecoming Weekend crowd, by the way...probably 3/4 full, 7,500 or so), I get a bit of good luck in return for my usual bad luck. It's one line feeding to three ticket windows. At about three or four people deep, the line divided to those different windows. Well, of course, I pick the window that gets stuck. While I'm watching several people go by me on each side a gentleman walks up and asks me if I need a single ticket. I said yes and he hands me a $10 grandstand season ticket, a seat that was going to cost me $15 on gameday. So that bit of good luck paid for my sausage with peppers and onions at halftime.
Being Homecoming Weekend, the University honored some of the great teams of the past; namely, conference championship teams from 1951, '61 and 2001. I see a trend there.
The wind was so strong during the game that punts into the wind were pushed almost completely sideways, going 20 yards at the most and netting not much more than 10. Maine lost the opening coin toss and URI elected to kick to them. Maine went three and out, punted 10 yards and gave the Rams the ball on the Black Bear 30. After giving up a couple of first downs, the defense held and then blocked a field goal attempt, which set the tone for Maine dominating the first half.
Maine must have had at least 10 holding penalties against them in this game, one of the biggest factors in their inability to maintain the momentum.
As is the case when I do these blogs from attending games, I just like to give you some anecdotes and encourage you to go to the games yourself. Ten to fifteen dollars to see a quality product is a great value. As of this writing the Black Bears are ranked #12 in the country, are 3-0 in conference play and 5-1 overall, with their only loss being to Division 1 Pitt by just 6 points. And they have two exciting players in quarterback Warren Smith and tailback Pushaun Brown.
If you'd like to read the game summary, you can do that here. I know you're not reading my blog for that.