CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — A look at the statistics from Maine’s loss at Boston College doesn’t reveal what was evident from watching the game Saturday.

Black Bears quarterback Dan Collins looked to have a better handle on the offense and more confidence in himself. A year ago, Collins finished 8-of-13 passing for 113 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a 40-10 loss at Alumni Stadium.

On Saturday, the numbers were worse but the performance was better. Collins, now a junior, ended up 12 of 29 for 84 yards and an interception on a deflected pass as the Black Bears fell 24-3.

But he seemed to be under constant pressure from a defense that knew Maine wasn’t going to try to run the ball much in the absence of suspended tailback Nigel Beckford. Collins was sacked five times and flattened by a pair of onrushing Eagles in the fourth quarter, writhing on the ground but returning to finish the game.

“I think it really rattles him knowing I’m coming off the edge,” said Boston College linebacker Matt Milano, who had two sacks. “That’s what he was thinking about instead of reading his keys and reading his zones, so I think that made a big impact.”

Nevertheless, Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove liked what he saw from Collins

“He’s made definite steps from last year to this year in his poise, his decision-making,” said Cosgrove, who named Collins the starter Friday over sophomore Drew Belcher, then stuck with his man throughout Saturday’s game. “He threw some balls on the money that we didn’t hang on to.”

The Black Bears were just 3 of 13 on third downs and that’s what bothered Collins the most. He felt like the offense let the defense down.

“I felt like I’ve grown up. I feel like I did better today than I did last year,” he said.

“We’ve got to have (the defense’s) back and put drives together, give them time on the sideline and make their adjustments.”

AS GOOD as Maine’s defense played, it couldn’t come up with any turnovers that might have swung momentum.

“When we’ve had success in the past against an FBS opponent, they’ve stumbled, they’ve turned it over to us, taken a lot of penalties,” Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove shuttled defensive players in and out of the lineup in the 76-degree heat, with 25 Black Bears recording at least one tackle. Cornerback A.J. Dawson and defensive end Trevor Bates led the way with six apiece.

MAINE MIDDLE linebacker Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, the team’s leading tackler the past two seasons, hobbled out of the game with an apparent ankle injury in the first half and didn’t return. X-rays showed no fracture. He is expected to be out two to four weeks with a bruised lower leg bone. …Place-kicker Sean Decloux handled the first punt for Maine, booting it 54 yards, but James De Martini took over from there. De Martini averaged 43.1 yards on his seven punts. … Linebacker Sterling Sheffield was the only true freshman to see action for Maine, picking up one tackle.


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