AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts used a dominating first half to dismantle the University of Maine 39-24 Saturday at McGuirk Stadium in a Colonial Athletic Association football game.

The Black Bears (3-6, 2-4 CAA) rallied for 14 second-half points but fell short against the 15th-ranked Minutemen.

All-American linebacker Tyler Holmes intercepted Maine quarterback Warren Smith twice, returning the first 18 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and the second 50 yards for a TD in the fourth.

“We didn’t have a very good first half and got behind a very good team,” said Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove. “Opening kickoff and two defensive scores? That’s tough to climb out of.

“We kept battling, kept playing. We had our chances but turned it over four times. That’s not going to get it done.”

Smith finished with four turnovers: three interceptions and a fumble. He passed for 270 yards and touchdowns, completing 29 of 41 passes.

The Minutemen (6-3, 4-2) outgained Maine 263-144 in the first half and scored a season-high 32 first-half points, 26 in the second quarter.

Maine’s bright spot was Pushaun Brown, who rushed for a season-high 141 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown in the absence of Jared Turcotte, who did not make the trip because of an injury.

“I was making my reads, trying to get vertical as fast as possible,” said Brown. “The line was doing their job. I was trying to get upfield as fast as I could.”

Maine gave up a 97-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff and trailed by 22 points at halftime.

The Minutemen had a second-quarter drive that covered 72 yards on 19 plays over a span of 8 minutes, 56 seconds. The drive included three fourth-down conversions, and Kyle Havens finished it with a 7-yard shovel pass to Jonathan Hernandez.

Maine improved in the second half, but the damage was done.

“We didn’t talk about anything at halftime; we just told ourselves what we were doing wasn’t acceptable,” said linebacker Donte Dennis.

“We had to step it up. We did, but it should never have come to that. We should’ve done it in the first half. It was a little bit too late.”

Smith led a 10-play scoring drive to open the second half, capping it with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Maurice McDonald. A 2-point conversion try failed and Maine trailed, 32-16.

Holmes’ interception return made it 39-16 with the point-after kick.

“You know, Coach does a great job to teach us to read off the quarterback’s intentions,” said Holmes. “I played off his eyes, saw where he wanted to go, made a jump, and it led to a score for us.”

Smith recovered to lead a five-play, 55-yard drive, connecting with Tyrell Jones from the 1 for the TD and again on a 2-point conversion to make it 39-24.

Smith was picked off again on Maine’s next drive, ending any chance of a comeback.

Brown scored Maine’s first touchdown on a 40-yard run.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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