ORONO — This was a mismatch from the start.

The University of Maine scored 43 points in the first half Saturday afternoon, boosted by the running of Josh Mack, and eased to a 60-12 victory over Bryant University at Alfond Stadium.

Mack rushed for 255 yards and three touchdowns, scoring on runs of 66, 13 and 60 yards in the first half, as Maine rolled to its first win of the season and evened its record at 1-1 entering a bye week.

Coming off a disheartening 24-23 loss to rival New Hampshire in the opener, the Black Bears came out fast and furious. Their offense put up 536 yards and the defense forced eight turnovers, five of them interceptions.

“Obviously, we’re very excited to get our first win as a team,” said Coach Joe Harasymiak. “I was pleased with the way these guys executed. We spent all week talking about us, worrying about us. I told them before the game to not worry about anything but us, improving ourselves, (playing) disciplined, fast, violent football. And we did that.”

Jamil Demby, a senior left tackle, credited the coaching staff for getting the team ready for Bryant (1-1), which put up 49 points in a season-opening win over Merrimack.

“I think the coaches did a great job all week,” said Demby. “I’ve never been more prepared in my life.”

Maine got touchdown passes of 11 and 31 yards from Chris Ferguson to Earnest Edwards on its first two possessions, which took a total of 102 seconds, and the Black Bears never looked back.

The second touchdown was set up by the first Bryant turnover, a fumble recovery by Charles Mitchell. It took the Black Bears just two completions to go 62 yards – a 31-yard pass to tight end Julian Dunn and then the touchdown to Edwards, who juggled the ball in the end zone before securing it.

Maine returned two interceptions for touchdowns, a 35-yarder by Darrius Hart in the second quarter (when Dakota Tarbox hit Bryant quarterback Price Wilson as he was throwing) and a 20-yarder by Sinmisola Demuren in the fourth (on a ball that was tipped at the line by Connor Walsh).

“We did everything we did all week in practice,” said Mitchell. “We were more violent than they were. We just straight dominated.”

In addition to the eight turnovers, Maine sacked Wilson four times and held the Bulldogs to an average of 2.1 yards per rush.

“Today was a hard lesson to learn, myself as a head coach, and the entire team,” said Bryant’s James Perry. “Any time that you have excellent offensive players that you’re playing against and you give them the ball back, then you’re exposing yourself. And you’re exposing yourself to serious risks.”

Maine was not going to overlook Bryant. Last year, the Bulldogs came into Alfond Stadium and held a 21-0 lead late in the second quarter before Maine rallied for a 35-31 win.

“When it comes to teams like this, if you want to be good, you win the game by a touchdown or two, but we set out to be great,” said Demby. “We want to take advantage of this opportunity. We wanted to show the (Colonial Athletic Association) and ourselves what we can do. And I think we did that today and set the tone for the rest of the season.”

Maine rushed for 381 yards, with former Cheverus star Joe Fitzpatrick adding a career-high 103 yards on 17 carries. Ferguson completed only 8 of 17 passes, but they went for 150 yards and three touchdowns, the last one a 9-yarder to Drew Belcher, the ex-quarterback now playing tight end.

“We just executed,” said Mack.

Now, said Harasymiak, the Black Bears have to keep moving forward. After their bye week, they play at defending national champion James Madison, then face two more difficult road games at Central Florida (a Football Bowl Subdivision team) and Villanova.

“We’re going to enjoy this,” he said. “Winning is very, very hard, especially in this league.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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