ORONO — For several years, the University of Maine’s football success had been forged by its defense, known as the Black Hole.

Sunday afternoon, the Black Bears’ offense made a statement in the team’s last scrimmage that maybe it would be a factor this year as well.

Maine’s offense scored eight touchdowns and senior Dan Collins made his pitch for the starting quarterback job as the offense found, well, gaping holes in the defense on the ground and through the air. Collins threw for three touchdown passes, two coming on the end of long drives that he directed.

“It was good,” said Joe Harasymiak, the first-year Black Bears coach. “You know, we battled through the spring, 15 practices, then you come into camp and we’ve had around 15 practices. Today was the first time you saw the explosive side of it. I’ve been saying we’re going to get our players the ball. And I think we did that.”

Harasymiak said he would probably name Maine’s starting quarterback on Monday with the Sept. 1 opening game at the University of Connecticut looming. It would be hard to imagine it being anyone other than Collins. While junior Drew Belcher, who has fought Collins for the starting position for two years, and red-shirt freshman Jack Walsh had their moments, Collins stood out.

He was calm and confident in the pocket and made all the throws. He found junior wide receiver Jaleel Reed for a 39-yard touchdown pass on the scrimmage’s first drive, hit sophomore Micah Wright for a 10-yard score and then passed to junior Marquise Adams for a 9-yard score.


The touchdown to Reed, who was one of the big offensive standouts of the scrimmage, was on a double-move post from the right. He threw a fade to Wright in the left corner and then hit Adams on a curl just inside the end zone.

Asked if he thought he had done enough to win the position, Collins said, “That’s up to the coaches to decide. It’s nothing different. I just wanted to go out and show I should be the starter and I think that’s what I did today.”

While the new Maine offense, directed by new offensive coordinator Liam Coen, is designed to score on big plays, it wasn’t just the passing that stood out. In short-yardage situations, Maine’s offense was 7 for 8 in picking up the first down. In goal-line situations, it scored every time.

“It’s a positive way to end camp,” said Reed, who scored a second touchdown on a scintillating 42-yard catch-and-run from Belcher. “We have a few more days left but that was the last time we were going live against each other. It was a big confidence boost for the offense.”

Running backs Nigel Beckford, a junior, and Josh Mack, a true freshman, ran hard. Collins and Mack credited the play of the offensive line with the success. “And that’s just a stepping stone for what they can do,” said Mack, who scored two touchdowns.

The defensive members of the Black Bears are happy that the offense played so well. But they know they have to play much better.


“We love to see that, of course” said junior cornerback Najee Goode. “But at the same time we’re the Black Hole. And since I’ve got here as a freshman, the Black Hole doesn’t let up anything.”

Goode said it wasn’t completely bad for the defense, but it wasn’t good enough.

“We’ve got to continue to get better,” he said. “We’re close to where we can be, but we’ve got to tighten up a lot of little things. I’m not satisfied with that right now.”

Harasymiak, the defensive coordinator last year, said he understands that the defense was upset, but he wasn’t worried about it.

“It was great to see it from the offense, moving forward that will be great momentum,” he said.

“The defense, I know they’re going to want to play better. But if I know the Black Hole, I know we’ll respond.”

The Black Bears had three players get injured – running back Zaire Williams (leg), safety Sinmisola Demuren (shoulder) and offensive lineman Daniel Burrows (ankle) – but Harasymiak didn’t think any of the injuries were serious.


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