ORONO — Micah Wright returned to the University of Maine’s offensive lineup Saturday and made an immediate impact.

The sophomore wide receiver caught three passes for 84 yards, displaying the playmaking ability that made him a second-team all-Colonial Athletic Association selection last year.

But Wright was not in the mood to celebrate afterward. Maine lost another fourth-quarter lead to fall to James Madison 31-20 at Alfond Stadium.

“It felt great,” said Wright of his return to the field. “But this feeling surpasses the feeling of being out there by a lot. We didn’t get the win. We didn’t execute in the second half.”

Wright missed the first two games of the season, serving a suspension for violating the university’s student-athlete code of conduct for an incident last May.

His return was timely because Maine was missing leading wide receiver Jaleel Reed, who was suspended for one game for a violation of team rules. Reed had nine catches in the first two games. He will return this week against Bryant.

Wright was held without a catch for much of the first half, then snagged a 40-yarder from Dan Collins late in the quarter to set up a Maine touchdown.

He later caught a 32-yard pass to set up Maine’s last touchdown, a 3-yard run by Darian Davis-Ray.

MAINE HAD no turnovers in its first two games and none in a first half Saturday that ended with the Black Bears ahead of James Madison, 13-10. But Collins threw three interceptions in the second half, two leading to touchdowns.

“Three turnovers, you can’t beat a team like that,” said Coach Joe Harasymiak. “You can’t beat anyone really like that, with three turnovers.”

MAINE’S DEFENSE did something no one else – including FBS school North Carolina – had done this year: prevent James Madison from finishing a first-quarter drive with points.

The Duke’s first series Saturday was an impressive drive that was capped by a 3-yard run by Khalid Abdullah.

Then Maine held on the second drive keyed by a strong play by defensive tackle Darius Greene on third-and-12 – stopping wide receiver John Miller for no gain on a bubble screen to the right.

THE ANNOUNCED attendance was 8,786 on a beautiful fall afternoon on Maine’s campus.

It was the largest crowd since Sept. 11, 2004, when 10,048 fans watched Maine beat Northern Colorado, 38-0.

“The atmosphere around here was tremendous,” said Harasymiak. “I haven’t seen a game around here like that in a while.”

He hopes the fans will return.

“They saw what type of team we have,” he said.

JAMES MADISON’S defense didn’t have a sack in its first three games. It had four against Maine, including three straight sacks for minus-21 yards on Maine’s final offensive series with James Madison protecting a 30-21 lead.

“The main focus was to just get them off the field,” said James Madison defensive tackle Simeyon Robinson. “The game was getting down to the wire. The defense came together and was determined to get them off the field. I did everything in my power to do that. And that’s what happened.”

Robinson had one of those three sacks, a big one for a loss of 16 yards that forced Maine to go for it on fourth-and-36.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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