Brandon Briggs hadn’t played football since 2012, when he was a senior kicker on Thornton Academy’s 2012 state championship team. He still attended games at the University of Maine, where he is studying to be a civil engineer, and found he missed the sport.

So last fall, at the urging of a couple of his former high school teammates, he participated in an open tryout – and made the team.

Now a fifth-year senior, Briggs has become an integral part of the Black Bears. He kicked two field goals in last week’s 12-10 win at Albany, including the winning 37-yarder in the fourth quarter.

“Everything felt smooth,” said Briggs, who has two years of eligibility remaining. “It was all crystal clear. I saw it go up, the adrenaline took over and I knew I would be celebrating with my teammates.”

Brandon Briggs

And that’s good because Maine has struggled in the last several years to find a consistent kicker. The Black Bears were only 1 for 7 on field goal attempts in 2016, and 12 for 21 in 2015. Maine recruited a kicker, Kenny Doak, and he was the starter at the beginning of the season. But Doak missed two PAT kicks in the first two games – including one that would have tied the game against New Hampshire late in the fourth quarter – and two field goals. So Coach Joe Harasymiak opened the position up again.

Briggs, who was doing the kickoffs, won the job. “I felt good,” said Briggs. “I just wanted to show I knew I had it.”

He has made his last four field goal attempts, following a miss, and has given the offense a boost.

“We know that if we get in the red zone and stall, we don’t have to worry about it,” said freshman quarterback Chris Ferguson. “We should just run off the field and get three points. … It’s great to have that and the confidence in his level of play.”

It wasn’t an easy return to football and kicking for Briggs, 22. Being out of the game for so long, he had to regain his technique and build up his leg strength. He played in two games in 2016 and came back much improved in August.

“He made a big jump in the offseason,” said Nick Charlton, Maine’s special teams coordinator. “Right now Brandon is a young man who exudes a lot of confidence and the team has a lot of confidence in him.”

Briggs, who switched from soccer to football his junior year at Thornton, still has work to do. He’s missed PAT kicks in his last two games – the one at Albany could have been costly. Harasymiak simply said this of the missed PATs: “We’ve got to figure them out.”

And Briggs knows this.

“I’ve watched the film,” said Briggs. “It’s got to be taken care of. I’ve got to be consistent.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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