ORONO – Warren Smith saw an essential quality emerge in the University of Maine football team’s overtime win last Saturday at James Madison.

“We worked together as a team and we overcame adversity,” said Smith, Maine’s senior quarterback.

“There were a few bad calls and at times it seemed like it was us versus everybody. But everyone had a part in this win. Everyone did something right for us.”

The Black Bears (4-1, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association), ranked 12th in The Sports Network/Fathead.com Top 25 poll and 16th in the FCS Coaches Poll, host Rhode Island (1-4, 0-2) at 1 p.m. today at Alfond Stadium. Yet after beating ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks, Smith acknowledged another new detail about his team.

“We have a target on our back now,” said Smith, after the Black Bears beat the Dukes 25-24 on Chris Treister’s leaping 2-point conversion run. “People are noticing that now.”

It’s a double-edged sword for the Black Bears: They’re a marked team, but their success is a badge of honor. As Smith explained, it’s a culmination of the contributions everyone’s made so far in the season.

“It’s great to have a full team effort,” Smith said. “The leadership is so good on this team and everyone wants to bring something to the table. Everyone feels obligated to one another.”
Maine’s depth at each position has been crucial in this stretch.

“When guys are given opportunities, they’re coming through,” Coach Jack Cosgrove said. “They’re producing.”

Arthur Williams and Justin Perillo proved that in last Saturday’s win. Perillo, the starter at tight end after knee surgeries sidelined Jeff Falvey and Derek Buttles, had nine catches for 101 yards and scored the touchdown in overtime that set up Treister’s winning conversion.

Williams, who replaced injured wide receiver Damarr Aultman, finished with four catches for 64 yards and provided key late-game yardage to help the Black Bears force overtime. His 15-yard catch in overtime set up Perillo’s 8-yard touchdown reception.

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to play because of injuries,” said Williams, a redshirt freshman. “I’m the next guy who steps in and I have to know what I’m doing. I was lucky I got a chance to play.

“You have to be able step in and the coaches have to prepare you so that you can step in. They tell us during the week, you have to prepare like you’re going to start and you have to be ready to step in and contribute.”

Defensive lineman Kevin Phanor emphasized the effect of preparation and his team’s outlook on it.

“One of the things the coaching staff always says is that the standard is the standard is the standard,” Phanor said. “We expect no drop-off between our (starters) and our (backups). There’s no dropoff.

“If the time comes where you have to step up and do your job, you have to do that. We expect everyone to know what they have to do and when it’s time for them to contribute, they do so.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: rlenzi