For five games, Cheverus graduate Joe Fitzpatrick was a spectator for the University of Maine football team. Coach Jack Cosgrove wanted to redshirt the freshman.

The injuries at tailback kept mounting, and on Saturday, Cosgrove felt he had no choice but to turn to Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick led Maine with seven carries for 63 yards in a 39-7 thrashing at Albany.

“It makes you mad at yourself, because you’re holding on to playing other guys and there’s that, ‘Can he do it in the game?’ thing. Well, let’s go, let’s just throw him in there, and we did. It was kind of like we had to,” Cosgrove said.

The Black Bears (2-3, 2-1 Colonial Athletic Association) lost backup running backs Darian Davis-Ray and Sacoy Malone to ankle injuries in recent weeks. Nigel Beckford carried only 10 times for 41 yards and a touchdown against the Great Danes. In addition to Fitzpatrick, 5-foot-7 senior Darius Benders saw the most extensive action of his career with six carries for 28 yards.

It provides Cosgrove with a measure of relief heading into Saturday’s homecoming game against Yale, which is 3-1 after falling 35-3 at Dartmouth on Saturday.

“Here’s a kid that was playing Maine high school football last year. He’d been a solid kid in practice, a hard-working kid,” Cosgrove said of Fitzpatrick. “He was outstanding. Benders was as good as he was. He didn’t break off a couple of big runs like Fitzy did, but Darius Benders really, really earned our respect up here how he played.”

Maine outgained Albany 469-172, and had its biggest victory margin since a 41-0 wipeout of Rhode Island late in the 2013 season.

Cosgrove wouldn’t say it was his team’s most complete game in the past two seasons, but was thrilled with how many players contributed to the victory.

The only negative for Maine was the uncharacteristic and continued struggles of senior kicker Sean Decloux, who missed a 30-yard field goal and an extra point, and had another PAT blocked.

He did connect on two shorter field goals later, but is 6 for 9 this season after also missing a pair of kicks in a win over Rhode Island.

“The operation (the snap and the hold) is good, he’s pulling everything to his left,” Cosgrove said of Decloux. “Can I massage the temples properly? I don’t know if I took that class. I’m going to try.

“Kickers are a little bit different than the linebacker or the quarterback. The tendency would be to maybe leave him alone and let him work these things out because he’s a very, very talented kid and I think he’ll get through it.”

RHODE ISLAND EARNED its first victory of the season, and did so in surprisingly convincing fashion Saturday, blanking visiting Delaware 20-0.

Freshman linebacker Tez Wilson even provided one of the touchdowns on a 25-yard interception return.

“I had no thoughts in my mind going into the game that we’d be able to pitch a shutout,” said Rhode Island Coach Jim Fleming, whose team improved to 1-5.

“When you’re playing good defense, you can really close your eyes and listen to it. I mean that because you’ll hear first contact, second and third quickly behind it. That’s what we were doing.”

ELON COACH Rich Skrosky may want to close his eyes as well this week when his defense takes the field. The Phoenix (2-4, 1-2) face the toughest task in the league Saturday when No. 5 James Madison rolls into town.

And the Dukes are really rolling, averaging 48.3 points and 614.5 yards per game behind senior quarterback Vad Lee. All he did last week was throw for five touchdowns in a 51-30 win at Towson.

Elon is allowing a league-worst 215.3 rushing yards per game.

“You look at their offensive numbers and if you just look at the paper, you’re like, ‘Oh, boy.’ Then you put the film on and you’re like, ‘OH, BOY,’ ” Skrosky said. “What do you need to do? First and foremost, you’ve got to get lined up. We played them late last year and I think that’s the biggest lesson we learned. Make sure you’re lined up and ready to play, be in a good stance. … It’s not necessarily the plays. Now, they’ll look over at times and scan you at times. But I think it’s all about going fast and getting you uncomfortable.”