September 9, 2012

Steve Solloway: Just one setback, no more, no less

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - The University of Maine and its untested quarterback lost the game it was expected to lose Saturday. Boston College beat your state team, 34-3.

The big-city team from the big-time Atlantic Coast Conference won. The football program that can boast of appearances in the Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl by painting the dates onto the facade of its stadium won.

The university that gave quarterbacks Doug Flutie, Matt Ryan and Matt Hasselbeck to the NFL won.

So what did Maine lose in only the seventh game these schools have played since 1913? Michael Cole, Maine's 6-foot-2, 250-pound junior defensive end, considered his answer. Maine lost a football game. Maybe a bit of pride that can be restored.

If you listened to Coach Jack Cosgrove and a few of his players, they were more beaten up than beaten down. At times Maine held its own in many areas of the game. It just didn't happen enough times.

"We'll learn from this," said Cole. "It will make us a better football team."

He was busy Saturday, sacking quarterback Chase Rettig twice and knocking him down. Cole had four unassisted tackles and assisted on a fifth, many times trying to get around BC senior tackle John Wetzel, a big man at 6-foot-8, 302 pounds.

"Our mentality this week was to come off the line as hard as we could with the moves we were taught and see what happens," said Cole. The problem for Cole and his mates was the terrible field position they were handed as the result of Maine turnovers.

"It's a little frustrating but our mentality in that situation is to hold them to a field goal. We just need to dig deep."

He wasn't about to blame any teammate. This was Maine's first game of the year with new personnel on the field and on Cosgrove's staff. Hello mistakes, bad breaks and bad plays.

A year ago, Maine played at Pittsburgh. A Big East school eager to fill a hole in its schedule with a team one rung down on the NCAA ladder. Boston College and Pitt play in the Bowl Championship Series, once known as Division I.

Maine reached the playoffs last year in the Football Championship Series, once known as I-AA.

Maine's defense got to the Pitt quarterback seven times. Cole got two sacks that day, too. He had eight tackles in the 35-29 loss. Maine's offense scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.

It was another no-lose situation. In fact, said Cosgrove, that game set the tone for the rest of the season when the Black Bears turned three apparent defeats into victories.

"We will go back and fix some things," said Cosgrove. "I suspect this will get the guys hungry for a win next week."

Bryant University, a former Division II football program, is Maine's next opponent. The roles will be reversed.

Maine did lose an opportunity to impress Saturday. So much in Maine's world is about perception. The respect earned last season was on a game-by-game basis. It will be the same this year.

Marcus Wasilewski was on the sideline in Pittsburgh when quarterback Warren Smith rallied his teammates in the fourth-quarter effort that fell short. Smith graduated and Wasilewski won the job. He has a lot to learn and knows it.

Wasilewski made no excuses. Neither did receiver Maurice McDonald when asked if the stiff breeze that blew steadily down the field affected him. The 50-yard pass from Wasilewski that fell just beyond McDonald's grasp was with the wind.

"No, no, (he) threw a good ball. All his balls were good," said McDonald. "It was up to me."

Mistakes, bad breaks, bad plays. Punter Jeffrey Ondish had a snap from center clang off his hands, leading to one Boston College touchdown. Later, he boomed a punt 63-yards with that wind, only to have Spiffy Evans return it 82 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Maine lost a football game Saturday to a big brother. Its coach and its players didn't think it lost anything else.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway

 

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