The University of Maine football team got back on track last week, overpowering Rhode Island 51-27 for its first Colonial Athletic Association win of the season.

Now the Black Bears (2-3 overall, 1-3 in the CAA) know they have to keep that momentum going if they want to extend their season beyond mid-November. And it all starts Saturday at Albany (3-3, 1-2).

“When you look at the big picture, we’ve got to win a lot of games from here on out, if not all of them,” said redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Ferguson, who was the CAA Rookie of the Week after throwing five touchdown passes against Rhode Island. “But you try not to put that in your head. We have to just focus on Albany. That’s all we can do.

“With that win, it gives us more confidence going forward into the next couple of weeks – that’s the offense we have, that’s the things we can do.”

Coach Joe Harasymiak said his players learned last week that staying focused on your next opponent has positive benefits.

A week earlier, he said he thought the Black Bears, including himself, weren’t totally focused on Villanova, resulting in a 31-0 loss. They spent much of the week talking about the result of that game – what it would do for their season – rather than focusing on their game preparations.

“The message going into that game could have been better,” said Harasymiak. “We were 0-2 going in, worrying about the big picture rather than just worrying about Villanova.

“For me, it’s about doing a better job of that week-to-week message.”

And that message, he said, should never change: “Have faith and belief in one another, and trust the guy next to you to do his job, and that allows you to do your job. Go play-to-play … Take care of yourselves so you can be at your peak on Saturday.”

Ferguson said that’s what the Black Bears did last week. And the results were eye-opening: After falling behind 21-10, Maine scored 41 consecutive points. Josh Mack ran for 248 yards and a touchdown, Ferguson found open receivers and Micah Wright returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown. Defensively, Maine found a way to shut down Rhode Island.

“We have some momentum going into our next game,” said linebacker Sterling Sheffield. “That will help us not only on the field but also at practice. We have a winning mentality now, something we didn’t have the last couple of weeks. And in order for us to continue having that, we have to bring it every day, to work hard in every practice.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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