ORONO – To Coach Jack Cosgrove, the keys to winning were obvious. To Pushaun Brown, a key to winning was a little more subtle.

The Black Bears struck a balance Saturday in a season-opening 28-13 victory over Bryant University.

“If you ask why we won, it’s because of field position, lack of penalties and no turnovers,” Cosgrove said. “(Mistakes) didn’t happen (Saturday). Those were our Achilles heels last year, the penalties and the turnovers. That’s why we ended up winning the football game.”

But Brown, who finished with 146 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, said special teams factored into the Black Bears’ quick start in the early part of the game.

“Coach (Cosgrove) always talks about the hidden yards in special teams, and you can get a lot of yards on special teams that aren’t really counted when people do stats,” said Brown, whose team took a 14-0 lead in the first nine minutes. “We count those hidden yards and that’s always big.

“The closer we are for scoring, the better for us. The defense does a great job of keeping their offense pinned in, so we can go down and have a short field to score on.”

Maine started its first drive from its 43-yard line after Arron Achey’s 18-yard kickoff return, and took a 7-0 lead in four plays on Brown’s first touchdown, followed by the first of Brian Harvey’s four point-after kicks.

The Black Bears started their second drive from their 45 and their third drive from the Bryant 26, set up by Trevor Coston’s 30-yard punt return.

Bryant Coach Marty Fine said Maine’s speed blindsided the Bulldogs in the first half.

“The kids aren’t quite ready yet with the simulation teams, and they don’t move like (Maine). It’s kind of like having me pitch in the backyard and then going to face Nolan Ryan. It takes a little bit of time.”

Fine also pointed to Maine punter Jordan Waxman as a factor. Waxman averaged 40 yards on four punts, with two landing inside the Bryant 20.

“The biggest difference was their kicking game,” Fine said. “Their punter kept us on long fields. The biggest difference was our lack of execution on the kicking game and their execution.”

However, Maine couldn’t avoid a bit of a letdown in the second half. The Black Bears’ defense gave up 205 yards and allowed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, a point that didn’t sit well with Cosgrove.

“I didn’t like the look in our players’ eyes,” Cosgrove said. “We had three three-and-outs right away in the second half on offense and we just weren’t the same football team we were in the first half.

“I take full responsibility for that. I’m committed to addressing those situations. I do that with them.

“And defensively, we were on the field a long time and we got worn down.”

Brown took all four carries on Maine’s opening drive, totaling 57 yards.

Two drives later, the Black Bears took a 14-0 lead on Smith’s 1-yard touchdown run with 6:06 left in the first quarter. Then, after Coston’s 74-yard punt return gave Maine a 21-0 lead early in the second, Maine took a 28-0 lead with 2:47 left in the third quarter on Brown’s second touchdown, a 1-yarder.

Jordan Brown (28 carries for 128 yards) scored Bryant’s only touchdowns in the final 9:45 of the fourth quarter.

“It’s a good step to get a win on the first night,” said Maine quarterback Warren Smith, who was 14 of 20 for 135 yards. “But the second half, we had a lot of breakdowns offensively. We’ve just got to build on it.”

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: rlenzi