It didn’t show up on the scoreboard, but Maine got terrific production out of a trio of tailbacks in Saturday’s 20-7 loss to Albany.

Nigel Beckford, Isaiah Jones and Jerick Fedrick combined for 144 yards on 25 carries, averaging 5.8 yards for the Black Bears. That enabled Maine to control the ball for 31 minutes, 44 seconds and give its defense some needed rest.

“We just felt like we would kind of involve all three of them in different roles,” said Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove. “We felt like it was a way to kind of push that (rushing) attack a little bit more.”

On its scoring drive in the first quarter, Maine got a 13-yard run from Beckford and a 22-yard scamper from Jones on back-to-back plays behind the right side of its offensive line. Maine’s running backs were never tackled for a loss and consistently gave freshman quarterback Drew Belcher short-yardage situations on third downs.

Maine converted only 4 of 15 third downs, but was 3 for 5 when running the ball. Belcher struggled in the passing game, throwing for 123 yards. He was sacked five times and was successful on just 1 of 10 third-down conversions in passing situations.

It added up to another loss for Maine (2-5, 1-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association), but does give the Black Bears some optimism heading into Saturday’s game at winless Rhode Island.


Beckford, a true freshman, was particularly impressive against Albany, having his best game in spite of one critical mistake.

“He’s been banged up a little bit on us, and it’s been hard at times to get him a full practice week and so that’s something that’s probably held him back a little bit,” Cosgrove said of Beckford, who ran 10 times for 75 yards.

His youth showed on a fourth-and-inches play at Albany’s 41-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Trailing 13-7, Maine lined up for a running play but Beckford crept toward the line of scrimmage early and was penalized for a false start. Backed up 5 yards, the Black Bears opted to punt.

“The learning curve’s been hard for him in some ways,” Cosgrove said, “but we’re very excited about him.”

RHODE ISLAND IS also excited about a true freshman running back. The Rams turned the ball over five times Saturday and got blitzed 37-0 by Richmond. But Harold Cooper ran for 98 yards and added 41 receiving yards.

“It’s hard to say you’ve got to lean on a true freshman running back, but he’s got some juice to him and he has the ability to get some explosion plays,” said Rhode Island Coach Jim Fleming. “We’ve got to count on him being involved in our offense.”


Cooper had a 56-yard run against Richmond that was the Rams’ longest rushing play in three seasons.

The Rhode Island defense held up well despite its offense turning the ball over on four consecutive possessions.

Richmond produced only nine points off those turnovers, thanks to some strong goal-line stands.

“The kids were talking on the way out to the field, ‘All right, another chance to go play defense.’ And that’s exactly the attitude you need to have,” Fleming said. “What we’ve got to do is, we’ve got to block some field goals right now to keep all the points off the board.”

THE JOHN ROBERTSON legend keeps growing at Villanova. The junior quarterback had both coaches raving after leading the No. 5 Wildcats to a 35-31 victory at William & Mary on Saturday.

Robertson drove his team 69 yards in 59 seconds, without the aid of a timeout, to score with 52 seconds left on a 13-yard pass to Kevin Gulyas. Robertson passed for 267 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 63 yards and two touchdowns.


“He’s the man, he’s the show for us,” Villanova Coach Andy Talley said after his team’s sixth consecutive victory, including a 41-20 win at Maine two weeks ago.

“He’s pushing to be one of the best, if not the best, quarterback that ever played at Villanova. We just want to keep him healthy and out of harm’s way.”

William & Mary Coach Jimmye Laycock said of Robertson: “He has great vision and he makes great decisions, and I think those are the things that separate a great quarterback from a good one. He doesn’t seem to get rattled, that’s for sure. He’s very poised back there.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.