ORONO — If anything, there was a certain symmetry to the University of Maine football season.

The Black Bears opened Sept. 1 with a 24-21 loss to Connecticut on a 37-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining.

The Black Bears finished Saturday with a 24-21 loss to New Hampshire on a 21-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining.

In between, the Black Bears won six games and lost three others in Joe Harasymiak’s first season as head coach replacing Jack Cosgrove.

It was too soon for Harasymiak to reflect on the season after the loss, but sophomore wide receiver Micah Wright, who caught two touchdown passes from Dan Collins on Saturday (giving him seven for the season), said he likes the direction the program is taking.

Maine finished 3-8 in 2015, including a 3-5 record in the Colonial Athletic Association. Saturday’s loss dropped Maine to 6-5 overall, 5-3 in the CAA.

“I love the future,” said Wright, who caught five passes for 121 yards on Saturday. “It all started with these guys right here (seniors Collins and Pat Ricard, who joined him at the postgame press conference.

“We’ve been through it all together, the ups and downs. I think the season didn’t end the way we wanted it to but definitely we set the footprint for the years to come.”

Wright caught touchdown passes of 45 and 29 yards for Maine, the final one helping the Black Bears make it 21-21 with 5:02 remaining.

It came on a fourth-and-8 from the New Hampshire 27. Collins threw across the field to the right pylon and Wright made a leaping catch over Isiah Perkins of New Hampshire and somehow landed in-bounds.

“Obviously it’s fourth down, you’ve got to get the ball to your best player,” said Harasymiak. “We did that. And good things happened.”

WHILE THE Wildcats still have to wait until 11 a.m. Sunday to find out if they officially made the playoffs for an astounding 13th consecutive season, Harasymiak said there’s no doubt they’ll get in.

The victory – New Hampshire’s seventh straight over Maine and 14th in 15 games – elevated the Wildcats to 7-4 overall, 6-2 in the CAA.

“For sure,” said Harasymiak. “Definitely, 6-2 in this league, that should get you in every year. No doubt about it.”

ADAM RIESE entered the game late in the first quarter when New Hampshire’s starting quarterback, Trevor Knight, suffered an injury to his right leg on a nine-yard sack by Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, one of the three sacks Maine had, all in the first half.

Riese, a senior who started three games last year, lost the position battle to Knight, a sophomore, earlier in the season. “Toughest decision I’ve had to make in a long, long time,” said UNH Coach Sean McDonnell.

On Saturday, Riese completed 20 of 37 passes for 218 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He made several clutch completions, including a 28-yarder to Kieran Presley to Maine’s 41 on the drive that set up the winning field goal by Morgan Ellman.

“He’s handled it so, so well,” said McDonnell of Riese. “Everybody in the program knows he comes in, we can win. He showed that today.”

MAINE NATIVE Cam Shorey of Calais had five tackles for UNH. Shorey is a 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end.

Donald Goodrich of York and Cheverus High also got into the game for the Wildcats.

JALEEL REED returned to Maine’s offense for the first time since Oct. 15, when he suffered a broken left thumb against Albany. He had surgery four days later.

Reed was Maine’s leading receiver at the time with 18 catches for 321 yards and three touchdowns. He caught one pass for four yards.

 

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