NO. 14 FOOTBALL TEAM FALLS AT MAINE, 16-13, IN OVERTIME
ORONO, Maine – Freshman kicker Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) kicked two field goals, including a career-best 47-yarder that gave the 14th-ranked University of New Hampshire a 13-6 lead with 2:47 remaining in regulation, but the Maine Black Bears blocked his 33-yard, game-winning attempt and got a 37-yard field goal from Brian Harvey in overtime to post a 16-13 victory over the Wildcats on Saturday night at Alfond Stadium.
The victory allowed the Black Bears (2-3, 1-1 Colonial Athletic Association) to snap a seven-game losing streak against the Wildcats (2-3, 0-2) and take possession of the Brice-Cowell Musket, which goes to the winner of the annual rivalry match-up.
With the score tied 13-13 at the end of regulation, UNH had the opening possession in overtime. Following a one-yard loss on first down, quarterback R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) lofted a pass towards the left slot for Joey Orlando (Bethlehem, Pa.), but Maine defensive back Jerron McMillian cut in front of the intended receiver for an interception, Maine's third of the game.
Maine began its overtime possession with a four-yard run by Jared Turcotte. On second down at the 21-yard line, Turcotte (21 rushes-71 yards) carried the ball for one yard and recovered his own fumble at the 20. Turcotte was stopped by Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) and Alan Buzbee (Chester, N.J.) for no gain on third down. Following a UNH timeout, Harvey, who had a PAT blocked in the second quarter, connected on his 37-yard field goal attempt to end the game.
After MacArthur's 47-yarder, which bounced off the crossbar and through the uprights, gave New Hampshire a 13-6 lead late in the fourth quarter, Maine responded with a seven-play, 57-yard drive culminating in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Warren Smith (19 of 28, 253 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) to Derek Buttles (three catches-48 yards-TD). The extra point knotted the score, 13-13, with 1:12 remaining.
The Wildcats then drove 50 yards on five plays, including a 39-yard pass from Toman (26-for-38, TD, 3 INT) to junior tight end Sean Cullen (Naples, Fla.), setting the stage for MacArthur's attempt with two seconds remaining. Brent Rice blocked the field goal, forcing UNH's first overtime game since the two teams met here in 2006.
New Hampshire, which trailed 6-3 at halftime, claimed its first lead of the contest by marching 57 yards on seven plays on its initial drive of the third quarter. Orlando (six catches-62 yards) drew a pass interference penalty for a first down at the Black Bears' 17. Facing a 3rd-and-4 just three plays later, Orlando went up the ladder to snatch a six-yard reception from Toman, putting the ball at the Maine 5. On the very next play, senior Terrance Fox (Piscataway, N.J.), who had a game-high eight catches for 81 yards, went airborne at the right pylon to nab his team-leading fourth touchdown reception of the season and Toman's eighth scoring toss. The extra-point from MacArthur gave the 'Cats a 10-6 lead with 10:54 remaining in the third quarter.
On Maine's ensuing drive, the Wildcats' defense came up with back-to-back big stops on short-yardage rushing plays. Facing a 3rd-and-2 at the UNH 35, Turcotte was held to one yard, absorbing a crushing hit from senior safety John Greer (Buffalo, N.Y.). On 4th-and-1, senior safety Hugo Souza (Marshfield, Mass./game-high 13 tackles) met Smith head-on, with assistance from Buzbee (12 tackles), on a quarterback keeper, as the Wildcats held and took over possession at the 34.
Maine, which was held without a first down the entire third quarter, put together an impressive 78-yard drive early in the fourth, getting to the UNH 4-yard line. But the Bears turned the ball over to the 'Cats on a fumble when Smith lost his footing and the football on an attempted handoff, giving UNH possession at the 20 when the loose ball bounced out of the end zone for a touchback.
The Wildcats' defense held the Black Bears to a three-and-out on their next series, highlighted by a pass break-up from junior cornerback Kyle Flemings (Forty Fort, Pa.) on a 3rd-and-2 pass intended for Tyrell Jones.
After a scoreless first period, Maine struck first with 13:25 remaining in the second quarter on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Smith to tight end Jeff Falvey, who made a leaping catch on a seam route along the right hash marks for his first touchdown catch of the season. UNH sophomore defensive tackle Jared Smith (Greencastle Pa.) blocked the extra point, however, keeping the Black Bears' lead at 6-0.
Maine threatened to build on the lead on its next drive, advancing to the UNH 23 before Flemings intercepted Smith's pass in the end zone for his second pick in as many weeks.
Greer was the catalyst for New Hampshire's first points of the game, as the senior registered his first career interception, picking off Smith's pass at the Wildcats' 45 and taking it back 15 yards to the Maine 40 with a little over five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Toman then connected with Cullen (career-high five catches-91 yards) for a 17-yard pick-up, putting the ball on the Black Bears' 23-yard line. Four plays later, UNH trimmed the deficit to 6-3 with 3:10 remaining in the first half on MacArthur's 32-yard field goal.
Maine had two early opportunities to score go by the boards in the opening quarter. On the Wildcats' initial possession, Jeremy Kelley blocked Kyle Auffray's punt, setting the Black Bears up at the Wildcats' 38-yard line. But the UNH defense stood tall, as senior defensive tackle Lance Mailloux (Bedford, N.H.) broke through the line of scrimmage on 4th-and-1 from the 29, dropping Turcotte for a one-yard loss.
On Maine's next drive, a 50-yard pass from Smith to Derek Session put the ball at the New Hampshire 30. Again, the Black Bears came away empty-handed when Harvey's 46-yard field goal attempt fell short.
The Wildcats return to Cowell Stadium next Saturday, Oct. 9, for a homecoming game against the University of Richmond at 12 p.m. UNH will be seeking a school-record 12th straight home victory. For ticket information, call 1-800-745-3000, visit the Whittemore Center box office weekdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. or log on to UNHWildcats.com.