ORONO — Two key offensive players stood on the sideline because of injuries.

But that was not the problem Saturday afternoon for the University of Maine football team.

The Black Bears’ defense faced a Towson University running machine and fell backward. The Tigers marched through Maine for a 40-30 victory before 5,258 at Harold Alfond Stadium.

Towson’s win, and New Hampshire’s 28-10 victory over James Madison, throws the Colonial Athletic Association race into a three-way tie, with Maine, Towson and UNH at 5-1.

Maine (7-2) lost its first game against a Football Championship Subdivision team, and it was the first time the Black Bears gave up more than 35 points.

Towson (7-2), the top rushing team in the CAA, gained a season-high 334 yards on 53 carries. The Tigers scored touchdowns on six of their 10 drives.

Terrance West (184 yards) and Tremayne Dameron (110) burst through holes and then broke tackles.

“We knew what their offensive line brought to the table,” Maine defensive lineman Raibonne Charles said. “And we just got beat.”

The Black Bears’ best chance may have been to win a high-scoring game, even though Maine was without leading running back Pushaun Brown (thigh injury) and lost top wide receiver Maurice McDonald (foot) five plays into the second half.

Quarterback Warren Smith still completed 26 of 41 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman tailback David Hood stepped in for Brown and rushed 23 times for 89 yards and a score.

But Smith was intercepted twice and sacked three times. His receivers also dropped some passes. And Hood lost a key fumble at Maine’s 10.

“We shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” Smith said. “Busted routes, drops and bad reads on my part. We still scored 30 points, but we could have put up a lot more.”

Other Maine mistakes included a holding call that killed a drive, and two failed field-goal tries — one blocked from 33 yards, and one missed from 42 yards.

“We did some things we’re obviously not happy with — turnovers and penalties,” Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove said. “They factor in a football game.”

Both teams scored on their second drives — Towson going 66 yards in 10 plays, Maine going 70 yards in nine plays. A 42-yard, third-down completion to McDonald keyed UMaine’s drive.

Hood’s fumble at the end of the first quarter led to a quick Towson score and a 14-7 lead.

Next came the holding call against Maine, negating Hood’s 16-yard gain to Towson’s 17. Smith was sacked on the next play and intercepted the play after that.

Towson scored on Dameron’s 19-yard run midway through the second quarter. The extra-point kick was blocked by Michael Cole and returned by Trevor Coston for two points, making the score 20-9.

The Black Bears opened the second half with a 66-yard touchdown drive, closing to 20-16.

Maine scored two more touchdowns, including a 53-yard Smith pass to Damarr Aultman, but never caught up. Unstoppable Towson put up 20 more points in the second half.

“This team has the qualities to be a winner and I expect our guys to rebound,” said Cosgrove, whose Black Bears are home to Massachusetts next week.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]

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