ORONO — A year ago, cold rain besmirched four of the five home dates for football, and the Black Bears seemed to follow suit, winning only once at Alfond Stadium.
This fall is a different story. The Black Bears enjoyed another clear, sunny and pleasant autumn afternoon on homecoming weekend and beat William & Mary 34-20 Saturday before an appreciative crowd of 6,917.
The victory moves the Black Bears to 6-1, 3-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association, good for sole possession of first place thanks to New Hampshire’s last-minute 29-28 victory over Villanova in Durham, N.H.
Maine travels to Philadelphia next weekend to play Villanova (4-3, 3-1).
Coming off a bye week, the Black Bears picked up right where they left off in a 62-28 thrashing of Delaware. Quarterback Marcus Wasilewski completed his first 10 passes and directed scoring drives on four of Maine’s first five possessions to give the Black Bears a 24-0 lead.
All this against a William & Mary defense that had been ranked first in the nation among Football Championship Subdivision teams, with a stingy 11.8 points per game average.
Maine surpassed that in the first quarter, opening a 14-0 lead on balanced drives of 80 and 65 yards. The opening drive required only one third-down conversion, with Wasilewski carrying 6 yards to the 6. On the next play, he ran again to the 1, where he fumbled into the end zone. Center Bruce Johnson emerged from a big pile with the football and the touchdown.
Rickey Stevens, who had been out since suffering fractured ribs in the lone loss (a payday game against bowl-eligible Northwestern), returned to action Saturday and capped the second scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Teammates were careful with their celebratory hugs.
A Sean Decloux 42-yard field goal and an 11-yard touchdown pass to Damarr Aultmann — in which he dragged two defenders the final few yards across the goal line — gave Maine a 24-0 lead in the second quarter.
It might have remained that way at intermission, but for a roughing the passing penalty on a fourth-down incompletion by William & Mary quarterback Michael Graham. That led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Kendell Anderson with 23 seconds left.
Wasilewski finished the half with 12 completions in 13 attempts, the only incompletion an intentional throwaway with receivers covered and the rush bearing down. By contrast, Graham was 2 of 11 for 23 yards.
Maine maintained momentum in the third quarter by stuffing William & Mary’s first drive and eating up nearly six minutes with a 13-play scoring drive. Stevens converted on fourth-and-short and Wasilewski found tight end Justin Perillo for a 6-yard touchdown pass to make it 31-7 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Black Bears finished with 414 yards of total offense. Wasilewski threw for 192 yards and two scores. Stevens finished with 99 yards rushing and Jones added 54.
Decloux added a second field goal, of 21 yards. William & Mary (4-3, 1-2) scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or[email protected]Twitter: GlennJordanPPH