ORONO – Chris Treister had the ball and he was dealing. Passes to tight end Derek Buttles for 22 yards. To Derek Session for 12. Handoff to Pushaun Brown for 12.

Bing. Bing. Bing. Three straight first downs.

Treister was the quarterback with the hometown of Cape Elizabeth who was going to make Maine fans reconnect with their state university’s football team. He was the quarterback who wasn’t tapped to start his team’s home opener. That was Warren Smith.

It took Coach Jack Cosgrove all of five seconds to pull Treister aside at halftime and tell him the offense was his to move.

“It would be selfish to say I was happy,” said Treister. “Coach talks to us as a group. We’re all together.”

But it was Treister who led the offense to start the second half. It was Treister who made the fans sit up and notice. He moved the team. And he didn’t.

After Brown’s run put Maine at the Albany 30, Treister led Tyrell Jones with a pass inside the 5-yard line. Another two or three strides and Jones would have had the touchdown. He tripped. Two plays later the drive died.

Maine had the ball four times in the fourth quarter and couldn’t score. Albany’s defense was one reason. Dropped passes was another. Jared Turcotte’s inability the shake the tacklers swarming him was a third. He left later in the fourth quarter after taking a hard hit below the back of his rib cage.

Turcotte carried the team on its most spirited drive in the third quarter from the Maine 11 to a fourth-and-1 on the Albany 34. A Treister sneak yielded nothing.

It was a Texas night, hot with puffs of a breeze. A late-arriving and boisterous crowd nearly filled the Maine grandstand. Great night for football.

Too bad Maine’s offense couldn’t deliver.

“It was probably as disappointing a loss as any I’ve been associated with,” said Cosgrove.

Yes, Maine was picked to finish seventh in its Colonial Athletic Association. Yes, it was the season opener against a nonconference opponent, when mistakes can take their toll. Albany Coach Bob Ford said flatly that his team had many opportunities to lose the game.

Albany didn’t lose. Maine did.

Maine didn’t play well in its 2009 opener against St. Cloud State, a Division II opponent. It played better football after the ill-advised platooning of quarterbacks Mike Brusko and Smith ended with Smith winning the job.

Turcotte was lost to injury and surgery last year. The offensive line was very young — and is still young, if more experienced. Maine still has more questions than answers.

You get all that. But Thursday night, against a team from the less competitive Northeast Conference, you wanted to walk out of Alfond Stadium pumping your fist and shouting yeah. That’s how to start a season.

With a victory, not a 3-0 defeat.

Maine got beat by a team that started a one-handed defensive end, for heaven’s sake. Eddie Delaney, a junior from Holtsville, N.Y., was born without a right hand, although he tells people a shark ate it.

He’s been diabetic since he was 6 years old and tells people the shark had diabetes. He made three solo tackles and assisted on two as Albany rotated players in and out of the lineup.

After Albany ran out the clock, Delaney helped lead the celebration while Maine trudged off the turf.

Coach Ford gave Cosgrove and Maine kudos for playing hard with scant resources, but the fact remains: Maine lost a game that should have had its fans cheering.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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