No. 5 New Hampshire Football Defeats Maine, 50-36
David Ball

ORONO, Maine - The University of Maine fell behind early as New Hampshire took a 40-14 halftime lead, but battled back in the second half for the 50-36 final score at Alfond Stadium. The Black Bears were led on offense by Ron Whitcomb, who passed for a season high 422 yards and four touchdowns, while Arel Gordon had nine catches for 157 yards and two touchdowns. The Wildcats were led by wide receiver David Ball with nine catches for 172 yards and three touchdowns, as quarterback Ricky Santos was 18 of 33 for 249 yards. Maine finishes the season at 5-6 (3-5 Atlantic 10) and New Hampshire improved to 9-2 (6-2 Atlantic 10).

"With an interception, blocked punt and fumble early in the game, it was too big of a whole for us to truly recover from," said head coach Jack Cosgrove. "We came back in the second half and had a chance once we made it a one score game, but they broke the game with the touchdown run with about a minute remaining in the game. Our effort in the second half had me believing that we would win the game."

Maine received the opening kickoff, however on the second play from scrimmage Ron Whitcomb (East Rochester, N.Y.) was intercepted by Corey Graham at the Black Bear 35-yard line. The Wildcats scored on a six yard run by R. J. Harvey to take a 7-0 lead at 12:30. The Black Bears were forced three-and-out on their next possession, and Mike Mellow (Stonington, Conn.) had his punt blocked by Sean Lynch, which was recovered by Keith LeVan in the endzone to give the Wildcats a 14-0 lead. Maine was forced to punt on the following possession, and the Wildcats drove 79 yards in six plays for a drive capped by a Ricky Santos to David Ball 22-yard touchdown reception at 6:22. The misfortune continued for the Black Bears, as a fumble on the kickoff game the Wildcats the ball at the Maine 33-yard line. The Wildcats only needed one play to take advantage of the turnover, as Santos and Ball combined for a 22-yard touchdown to take a 27-0 lead, as the extra point failed.

The Black Bears were able to take advantage of a New Hampshire turnover as Whitcomb hit Arel Gordon (Rochester, N.Y.) for a 28 yard touchdown reception for a 27-7 score at the end of the first quarter. New Hampshire added a 32 yard field goal and a 38 yard field goal by Connor McCormick in the second period to stretch the lead to 33-7. Maine countered as Whitcomb again found Gordon for a 24-yard touchdown catch at 2:11 in the second quarter. Before the half ended, the Wildcats added a touchdown as Santos and Ball combined for a 45 yard touchdown catch to give New Hampshire a 40-14 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, New Hampshire took the opening possession to the Maine 12-yard line before adding a 39 yard field goal by McCormick to take a 29 point lead at 43-14. The Black Bears began to rally back, as a Mellow punt was downed at the five-yard line. On the next play, Jermaine Walker (Teaneck, N.J.) tackled Chris Ward in the endzone for a safety. Following the Wildcat free kick, Maine scored as Montell Owens (Wilmington, Del.) had a three yard run to cut the lead to 43-23 at the end of the third quarter. Maine continued to rally, as Whitcomb connected with Christian Pereira (Bronx, N.Y.) on a 37 yard touchdown pass, however the point after was blocked and Maine was down 43-29.

The Black Bear defense held strong, and forced a punt on the ensuing Wildcat possession. Maine's passing game came up big again, as Whitcomb found Ryan Waller open deep for a 45 yard touchdown completion. With the point after, Maine cut the lead to seven points with 7:10 remaining in the game. The teams traded punts, and New Hampshire got the ball back with 4:24 remaining in the game. John McCoy was able to break loose on a run and went 24 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats a 50-36 lead with 1:06 remaining in the game. The Black Bears got the ball back, however Whitcomb was intercepted on the fourth play of the drive.

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