In the two days after a gutsy win over a ranked opponent, the University of Maine football team did two things.

First, it fielded congratulations, though Coach Jack Cosgrove downplayed whatever well wishes he received after Saturday’s 25-24 overtime victory at James Madison — a game in which the winning play, Chris Treister’s airborne 2-point conversion — was the No. 2 highlight in SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays of the Day on ESPN.

“It’s pretty humbling,” Cosgrove said during Monday’s Colonial Athletic Association teleconference. “We’re going about our business. That’s one of the great things that keeps you grounded.”

Then the Black Bears evaluated the physical toll the win took on the team.

While Maine didn’t suffer any significant losses to injury, Cosgrove said the team is at a point in the season where the wear and tear is obvious.

“We’re limping around here, but that’s probably just like everyone else here,” said Cosgrove, whose team will be home against Rhode Island at 1 p.m. Saturday at Alfond Stadium. “That’s part of the game and we have to bounce back. We’re depleted, just like everyone else.”

Against James Madison, the Black Bears (4-1, 2-0 CAA) had to count on their depth after a handful of starters missed time as a result of various hits.

Tailback Pushaun Brown finished with 54 yards on 15 carries and sat out the third quarter after suffering a bruised thigh midway through the second.

In the fourth, linebacker Vinson Givans, and safeties Trevor Coston and Jerron McMillian briefly left after hard hits, and receiver Derek Session was hit in the chest late in the fourth as he jumped to catch a pass from quarterback Warren Smith, a play Cosgrove called “a good, clean hit up the middle” by James Madison safety Dean Marlowe.

But at this point of the season, a rash of injuries — whether they’re bumps and bruises, or season-ending ailments that require surgery — isn’t unique to the Black Bears. It’s something that’s become somewhat of an epidemic at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

“You’re into the grind of mid-season,” Rhode Island Coach Joe Trainer said. “I think everybody at the I-AA level, where the depth is never where you want it to be, is there. Your starter may be backed up by a Division III kid or a kid who’s not ready to take on that role. If you ask I-AA coaches how they practice at this level, it’s much different than the Patriot League or the Ivy League.”

The Rams (1-4, 0-2) found themselves bitten by the injury bug even before the season began.

Tailback Ayo Isijola hasn’t played this season because of an ankle sprain, and in Saturday’s 31-23 loss to Old Dominion, the Rams lost All-CAA offensive tackle Jason Foster to heat stroke in the first quarter. Foster had to be hospitalized.

“We’re not as deep as we need to be and when we lose guys, it impacts the game plan and impacts your ability to perform,” said Trainer.

NOTES: Maine is ranked 12th in The Sports Network/ top 25 poll, and is 16th in the FCS Coaches top 25 poll. Three Black Bears earned weekly honors: Quarterback Warren Smith was named the College Sports Madness FCS national and CAA player of the week, tight end Justin Perillo the College Football Performance Awards national tight end of the week and defensive back Jerron McMillian was an honorable mention selection for the College Football Performance Awards national defensive back of the week.

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be contacted at 791-6415 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: rlenzi


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