ORONO — This was the type of offensive game the University of Maine waited to see.

Redshirt freshman Chris Ferguson threw five touchdown passes Saturday, three to Jaleel Reed, and Josh Mack rushed for over 200 yards for the second time this season as the Black Bears overwhelmed Rhode Island 51-27 at Alfond Stadium.

Trailing 21-10, the Black Bears reeled off 41 consecutive points, getting a scintillating 77-yard punt return for a touchdown by Micah Wright and scoring on four straight possessions to take a 30-point lead into the fourth quarter.

The victory snapped a two-game losing skid for Maine, lifting it to 2-3 overall, 1-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association. It was Maine’s 11th consecutive victory over the Rams, who dropped to 1-5 overall, 0-3 in the CAA.

“It’s great to get that winning feeling back in the locker room,” said Coach Joe Harasymiak. “That’s the best feeling.”

The Black Bears’ offense was in high gear, with Mack rushing for 248 yards, patiently letting his blockers do their thing, then cutting to the opening, and Ferguson completing 18 of 28 passes for 214 yards.

Ferguson, coming off back-to-back games totaling six interceptions and no touchdown passes, hit seven receivers and was in complete control.

“The balance is unbelievable in our offense,” said Ferguson, who had never thrown for five touchdowns in a game at any level. “Offensive line, our guys at wideout and (Mack), of course. Sometimes I just sit back and watch him make runs and just smile. It makes everything easy.

“I kind of call it the 1-2 punch. Let me do my thing and let him do his thing, and just roll from there.”

Harasymiak was most pleased with how Maine handled early adversity. The Black Bears trailed 21-10, with Rhode Island doing just about whatever it wanted on offense.

Maine was unable to stop the Rams on third down in the first half (3 of 5) and had several missed tackles.

But unlike a week ago, when Maine folded after a 14-0 deficit at Villanova, it kept pushing back.

“I’m glad to see how we responded from 21-10,” said Harasymiak. “That could have gone a different way. We talked all week about just responding to adversity. … We just wanted to get back to being a Maine football team that’s tough. I was happy to see our guys respond and play together.”

The comeback started with 1:37 left in the first half when Ferguson hit Jared Osumah with a 5-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 21-17.

Harasymiak wasn’t going to call any timeouts on defense because Rhode Island’s offense had been so effective, but a first-down sack by Charles Mitchell prompted him to change his mind.

The Black Bears called two timeouts, setting up a punt by Satchel Denton. Wright fielded it at the Maine 23, made two players miss, then burst to the left for a 77-yard touchdown.

That gave the Black Bears a 23-21 lead at the half.

Maine then scored on all four possessions in the third quarter – 16-yard run by Mack, 8-yard pass to Reed, 19-yard pass to Earnest Edwards and a 42-yard flea-flicker pass to Reed, a play in which Ferguson handed the ball to Joe Fitzpatrick (78 rushing yards on 11 carries), who shoveled the ball back to Ferguson, who hit Reed in stride 15 yards behind the defense.

“We just couldn’t stop the bleeding,” said Rams Coach Jim Fleming.

Mack rushed for 183 yards in the second half to complement Ferguson’s passing. And the defense held Rhode Island to 108 yards in the second half.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH