WORCESTER, Mass. — The Maine Mammoths started well but couldn’t hold the lead Saturday night, losing 51-24 to the Massachusetts Pirates in the National Arena League football debut for both franchises.

A crowd of perhaps 5,500 in a half-full DCU Center saw the Pirates overcame a shaky start – Maine recovered the opening kickoff within 5 yards of the end zone and scored on its first play.

Jonathan Bane threw for three touchdown passes and scrambled 5 yards for another to help the Mammoths pull within 32-24 early in the fourth quarter, but the Pirates scored the final 19 points, helped by two interceptions and a fumbled center snap.

After introductions with smoke, flashing lights and loud music, the teams played an eight-on-eight game on a 50-yard field painted blue with teal end zones. Pads covered the hockey boards, whose curved corners shaved a part of each end zone.

A 15-yard touchdown pass from Bane to Maurice Dupree gave Maine a 12-7 lead in the first quarter, but the point-after snap sailed over the holder and kicker Brendan Rutherford was injured when tackled into the boards near midfield. Massachusetts scored the next four touchdowns.

The Mammoths make their home debut next Saturday against the third NAL expansion team, the Carolina Cobras.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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