December 3, 2013

Black Bears are lit up for a rematch

The football players and coaches are eager to meet UNH again.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski had one of those games in the regular-season finale, when the Black Bears lost at New Hampshire. He was sacked five times, threw an interception and fumbled during a sack. And now comes a rematch, at home in the NCAA playoffs.

Photos by Robert F. Bukaty/The Associated Press

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Rickey Stevens of Maine, left, gained 86 yards against New Hampshire in the first game, and will be a key to the ground game as the Black Bears seek a more balanced offense.

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NCAA FOOTBALL

WHO: Maine (10-2) vs. New Hampshire (8-4)

WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Alfond Stadium, Orono

RADIO: WLOB-1310 AM

In Maine’s previous six games, the Black Bears had zero turnovers.

The Wildcats have won 10 of their past 11 meetings with Maine. They’ve also won seven of their eight games this season since a 1-3 start.

“Our backs have been against the wall for a long time,” said New Hampshire Coach Sean McDonnell.

“I don’t think any of that stuff means a whole lot once you get to that Sunday and you get picked to be in the NCAA playoffs. Everybody’s got the same type of feeling. It’s one and done. It’s win and go on. It’s lose and go home.”

Twice before in McDonnell’s 15-year tenure the Wildcats met a regular-season opponent in the playoffs. Both times New Hampshire lost the rematch, to Massachusetts in 2006 and Villanova in 2009.

“I don’t have a whole lot of success in playing teams twice,” McDonnell said. “The biggest thing is, you have to evaluate how they attack you, how they defend you, how they do their special teams. … I’m sure (Cosgrove) is going to change a little bit and I’m sure their kids are going to be ready for this one. Not that they weren’t ready for the first one, but they’ll be ready.”

Maine never has faced a regular-season opponent in the playoffs, nor have the Black Bears ever hosted a tournament game. They were 1-4 at home a year ago but are unbeaten this season at Alfond, “a place we want to defend and honor,” Cosgrove said. “That’s something that has been a key to our season.”

McDonnell said New Hampshire’s familiarity with the facilities in Orono – most of his players made the trip north in 2012 and many did so in 2010 –will be a positive.

“The bad thing is you’re playing a hell of a football team at home where they’re 5-0,” he said. “There’s a lot of other places that I’d rather be going than to play a really good football team like Maine in Orono.”

The Brice-Cowell Musket, traditionally awarded to the winner of this border rivalry that stretches back for more than a century, will remain in Durham. The CAA championship trophy sits in a chair in Cosgrove’s office.

“We’re proud of the CAA title,” Stevens said. “We’re proud of the way the guys jelled around here, but we definitely have something bigger in front of us. We definitely have our eyes focused on what’s in front of us right now, and that’s UNH for this week.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

Gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

 

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