Jon Meczywor can’t remember if the day was sunny and mild, or cloudy and cold. He can’t remember if the stands in Kidd Brewer Stadium were full and how loud it was or wasn’t.

“You’re asking me about a long time ago,” said Meczywor. “Most of it is a blur.”

All he remembers is how he felt walking off the field at the end of the game on that late November day in 2002. He was flying.

Few football teams go into Boone, N.C., expecting to beat Appalachian State and Maine did just that in the first round of the NCAA football playoffs, winning 14-13. Meczywor passed for one touchdown, Marcus Williams ran for the other and the defense, led by linebacker Stephen Cooper, did the rest.

That Meczywor was the sophomore third-string quarterback rushed into duty just the week before made the victory that much more stunning. Williams, too, was a sophomore, but he had been taking handoffs throughout the season.

Afterward, Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove said he imagined jaws dropping when college football fans learned of the outcome. His Black Bears had trailed 10-0 in a hostile environment and rallied to win.

Sound familiar? Maine has had four fourth-quarter rallies this season. The Black Bears drew a bye in the opening round of this year’s playoffs and return to the western mountains of North Carolina to play the Mountaineers.

From his home in western Massachusetts, Meczywor has paid attention to Maine’s surprise run. He actually transferred out of Maine to finish his football career at Division III Westfield State in Massachusetts but make no mistake, he is part of the Maine football family.

He played on two of Maine’s most successful football teams. As a freshman he was Jake Eaton’s backup in 2001 and was on the sideline when Maine won a playoff game for the first time, beating McNeese State in Louisiana before losing to Northern Iowa a week later.

Eaton returned for his senior season in 2002 but got hurt. Meczywor dropped on the depth chart to third, behind new face Chris Legree. But when Maine played New Hampshire to end the regular season, Cosgrove gave the football to the lanky, 6-foot-5 Meczywor.

He threw two touchdown passes to help Maine win, 31-14. The next week, in the biggest game of his college career, he was taking snaps from center again.

“I wasn’t nervous (playing Appalachian State). I just wanted to do my job and just try not to do too much and make mistakes. I needed to hand the ball to Marcus Williams and watch our great defense do its job.”

Dennis Dottin-Carter, then part of that defensive unit and now Maine’s line coach, laughed at his teammate’s modesty. “Jon played well, don’t let him fool you. We had confidence in him.”

By the way, Dottin-Carter remembers a very cold game day. “That was the one thing that surprised us. The game was played on Thanksgiving weekend so the crowd wasn’t as big as it might have been.”

Meczywor was the quarterback when Maine lost to Georgia Southern in the next round, but when he returned to Orono in 2003, that job was in the hands of freshman Ron Whitcomb.

“The team was going through a total rebuild,” said Meczywor. “I didn’t want to have any regrets later in life that I didn’t play at least one full year at quarterback. So I left.”

He had fun playing at Westfield State. He threw for 298 yards and a touchdown in a 17-14 win over Maine Maritime Academy near the end of his career.

But the challenge of throwing against Division III defenses wasn’t the same.

Appalachian State twice drew home crowds of more than 30,000 this season. Now a financial advisor for an independent investment company, Meczywor won’t be part of the big crowd expected at renovated Kidd Brewer Stadium.

He will be there in spirit.

“I think beating (Appalachian State in 2002) is one of the top five wins in Maine football. I was part of that.”

That, he’ll always remember.

 

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: SteveSolloway