Monday, December 9, 2013
ORONO - They had a crisp marching band, twirlers with flaming batons, an inflatable moon bounce for the kids and visiting stands packed with University of Maine students.
Maine wide receiver Maurice McDonald (2) makes a reception under pressure from Albany free safety Justinian Mason (28) and Jojo McLary (43) in the second half Saturday.
The Associated Press
Defensive back Kendall James of the University of Maine, foreground, plays tight against Cole King of Albany, who attempted to make a catch in the first half of Albany’s 30-20 victory Saturday night.
The Associated Press
WHO: Villanova (3-1) at Maine (1-2)
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Alfond Stadium
But the postgame fireworks seemed rather muted because the Black Bears couldn't get in sync on the football field and lost 30-20 on a damp Saturday night to Albany before a crowd of 7,101 at Alfond Stadium.
Maine (1-2) scored all its points in the second half after holding Albany (2-2) without a touchdown in the first half.
"We lost to a better football team," said Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove, whose team racked up 95 yards in penalties, including several roughing calls that sustained Albany scoring drives.
"We were undisciplined," Cosgrove said. "We had a number of things from veteran players. I think half our penalties were from seniors or fifth-year seniors."
Maine opens its Colonial Athletic Association schedule next weekend by hosting Villanova.
"We've got a short window of opportunity to get our business in order," Cosgrove said. "Obviously we were a disappointment tonight for the folks who showed up."
Albany, which has won or shared five Northeast Conference titles in the past decade, will join Maine in the CAA next year. Two years ago the Great Danes spoiled Maine's opener with a 3-0 victory. On Saturday, they led 9-0 at the half and put the game away with two fourth-quarter touchdowns from Drew Smith, who finished with 114 yards on 18 carries.
"We knew we were physically there," said Smith, whose team fell just short of No. 5 Youngstown State last weekend 31-24, "and talent-wise, we could compete with the best of them. And we came up here and proved it. We wanted to prove we could play in the CAA."
After a frustrating first half, the Black Bears jumped back in with a long scoring drive to open the third quarter and make it 9-7. Quarterback Marcus Wasilewski passed to a wide-open Damarr Aultman for 19 yards one play after converting a fourth-and-1 by recovering a fumbled snap.
The Great Danes, who opened with an end-around and also attempted a first-half flea flicker that included two handoffs and a pitch back to the quarterback for a screen pass, responded with another reverse. This one resulted in a 74-yard scoring run by Kevin Chillis that regained Albany's two-score cushion.
Maine drove deep into Albany territory three more times but came away with two Brian Harvey field goals, of 31 and 30 yards, before Wasilewski connected with Derrick Johnson on a 4-yard scoring pass with a little more than two minutes left.
The second Harvey field goal made it 23-13 with 12 minutes remaining, and the Black Bears quickly forced a punt. But it was muffed by Maurice McDonald and recovered by Albany.
Any remaining comeback hopes evaporated with Smith's 27-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-2 with six minutes left, gave Albany a 30-13 lead.
Maine tailback Rickey Stevens Jr. started in place of the injured David Hood and gained 83 yards on 20 carries. McDonald caught 11 passes for 93 yards. Wasilewski completed 23 of 36 for 264 yards and was picked off once.
"Execution-wise we were lacking a little bit," Wasilewski said.
Everything seemed in place for a successful home opener. Alfond Stadium was well-populated, in part because of a coordinated effort by the administration called Black Bear Fanfair to attract more students and fans. The band and students sat across the main grandstand, behind the visiting team bench.
Although Maine gave glimpses of the offense that scored 51 points a week ago, mistakes kept the Black Bears off the scoreboard in the first half.
And an Albany team that has played nationally ranked opponents each of the past 10 years refused to buckle under to Maine's comeback attempts.
"If you want to grow soft celery, you put the cheesecloth over it," said Bob Ford, who recently celebrated his 75th birthday and is in his 40th year as the only head coach in the history of the Albany program. "If you want to grow tough celery, you take the cheesecloth off. I think you get better playing better people."
Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: