ORONO — Maine backup quarterback Drew Belcher made his first appearance of the game late in the first quarter Saturday and immediately made Coach Jack Cosgrove look like a clairvoyant.

Belcher took the snap and headed right as if he was going to run, then pivoted backward and threw a pass down the right sideline to Micah Wright, who jumped over a defensive back before completing a 51-yard touchdown.

It was the only completion for Belcher, but it gave Maine a 7-3 lead en route to a 27-17 victory over Rhode Island.

“The touchdown pass right away was based on the fact that we ran a lot with Drew last year. That was Drew’s first win down at Rhode Island,” Cosgrove said of last year’s 20-14 road victory. “So we kind of showed that little dip-in and kick back and throw for the touchdown, so we put that in during the week.”

Belcher took a dozen more snaps to spell starter Dan Collins, throwing one more incomplete pass and also rushing six times for 12 yards.

Cosgrove said Belcher, a sophomore, will continue to see action along with Collins, a junior.

“We felt like he did a nice job down at Tulane (late in last week’s 38-7 loss) and we wanted to get him into the game,” Cosgrove said. “We feel like the kid is a good player and the whole competition was very, very close. Swapping him in there to spell Danny or getting him some reps is going to be a thing in our offense going forward.”

Collins finished 14 of 25 for 211 yards, and also gained 33 yards rushing.

PENALTIES PERTURBED Cosgrove, leaving the coach in a downbeat mood after his team’s first victory of the season.

Maine was flagged 14 times for 118 yards, nullifying a pair of apparent touchdown catches by Jared Osumah.

“I think we set a Guinness Book of World Records for penalties,” Cosgrove groused. “I wouldn’t be sure if our offensive line didn’t have 12 themselves. So that’s sitting pretty hard in my stomach right now.”

MAINE UNVEILED a new version of its mascot, Bananas. It was the first update for the costumed bear in 15 years. The university first used a live bear as a mascot in 1914, and it earned the nickname based on the crowd’s response. When live mascots were outlawed in Maine, the costumed version was instituted in 1969.

THE BLACK Bears were again without starting middle linebacker Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga and strong safety Darrius Hart. Both players also missed last week’s 38-7 loss at Tulane because of bruised legs but were hopeful of making a return for the home opener. … Rhode Island played without starting tailback Harold Cooper, who had a concussion. Cooper rushed for 74 yards on 10 carries last year in a 20-14 loss to Maine. Sophomore T.J. Anderson replaced Cooper. … Black Bears backup safety Mozai Nelson left the game because of a shoulder injury, and backup tailback Darian Davis-Ray was carted off after appearing to injure his ankle. Neither returned, and their status was not immediately available.


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