The University of Maine can clinch the Colonial Athletic Association football championship Saturday with a home win over Elon, but the Black Bears once again may be without quarterback Chris Ferguson.

The sophomore injured his right shoulder on a sack in the third quarter of last Saturday’s 28-9 win at Richmond. Coach Joe Harasymiak said Monday “it was too early to tell” if Ferguson would be ready to play against Elon.

It’s the second time this season that Ferguson has suffered an injury to his right shoulder. He originally hurt it on the fourth play of Maine’s 17-5 loss to Central Michigan on Sept. 22. Ferguson was replaced by redshirt freshman Isaiah Robinson, and missed the next two games as well – a 35-14 loss to Yale and a 13-10 win over Villanova.

“It’s day-to-day, similar to what we did at the beginning of the season,” said Harasymiak during the CAA conference call. “We’ll evaluate (Ferguson) but we need time to see where he’s at. I can’t say too much else.”

Maine did not practice Monday. The Black Bears return to practice Tuesday.

Maine’s offense has struggled without Ferguson. The Black Bears rank eighth in the CAA with an average of 346 yards in total offense. In the nearly three full games he missed, Maine averaged 279.

Since his return, Maine is 4-1, winning its last three. He has completed 133 of 188 passes in that stretch for 1,262 yards, with nine TDs and six interceptions.

At 6-1 in the league, 7-3 overall, Maine has the edge over five teams with two league losses. A win would give the Black Bears the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. A loss means the CAA will go to tiebreakers. And while Maine could still earn the automatic bid that way, Harasymiak doesn’t want to leave anything to chance.

“We’re excited about the opportunity,” he said. “And the message to the players is that we don’t want to share it with anyone.”

It’s not going to be easy. Elon (6-3 overall, 4-2 in CAA) leads the league in rushing offense with 221.2 yards per game. Maine leads the CAA – and is second in the nation – in rush defense, allowing just 65.4 yards per game.

Maine moved up from 21st to 19th in the FCS Coaches poll, released Monday. The Black Bears remain No. 16 in the STATS FCS Top 25 poll.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH


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