Sunday, March 9, 2014
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"Our quarterback, Mike Buck, was simply spectacular in what was a historic moment and game for Maine."
Maine was in the NCAA football playoffs for the first time, drawing Georgia Southern, a perennial power, for its first game. Maine had the lead before losing 31-28 in overtime.
"That's the game we talk about most when we get together," said Penna, now a financial adviser in Providence, R.I. He shrugged off whatever pain lingered in his shoulder and played that day. "We had them. We should have won. It seemed like we had studs up and down our lineup. That was quite a team."
Steve Violette of Winslow played next to Penna at linebacker. So did Andy Nickerson of Brewer. Scott Hough was part of the big offensive line that protected Buck. James Fox was the running back. Claude Pettaway was a defensive back. Bob Wilder, the quarterback from Madison, had lost his job to Buck.
Defensive lineman Justin Strzelczyk was on this team. He would switch to the offensive line for a successful career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Buck became a backup for the New Orleans Saints.
Tim Murphy, now at Harvard, was the head coach before taking the head coaching job at Cincinnati. Jack Cosgrove was an assistant coach.
Maine's victory over Mississippi State, a I-A opponent, was voted the top moment. Beating McNeese State for the first win in the NCAA playoffs was voted the runner-up. Certainly they were watershed games.
But don't forget Maine's win over Illinois State for that first trip to the playoffs. Maine football doesn't always rise to the occasion. That day in 1987 it most certainly did.
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: