University of New England freshman Giancarlo Diaz tackles Alvernia quarterback Keiron Black on Saturday.
PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Every college football team wants to be coming off a victory as they head into the long offseason.
The University of New England squad was able to do just that as they pulled away for a 42-27 win over Alvernia University on Saturday afternoon. The Nor’easters finish their first NCAA Division III season with a 2-7 record.
“Ending the year on a win is huge. It carries into the offseason and eight months from now, when we start all over again, we’ll keep carrying that win over,” said UNE sophomore defensive back Owen Berry, who is from Wells.
It didn’t look like UNE would get win No. 2 early in Saturday’s game as Alvernia scored a pair of touchdowns in the first seven minutes to take a 14-0 lead.
“We came out really flat today. We had been game-planning for everything they have been running all week, so it wasn’t something we hadn’t seen before. Coach (Mike Lichten) just took us aside and said ‘we’ve got to step up,’” said UNE linebacker Keegan Stanton-Meas, a freshman from Portland. “We had been doing this all year, we haven’t stepped up. When we get down, we stay down and today was a different day. We came through and when it was our turn to get back on the field, we stepped up and got a stop.”
UNE would start to rally back when Brian Peters hit Brett Miller for a 21-yard touchdown with 6:21 left in the first. The extra point would be blocked to make it a 14-6 game.
It would be the visiting Golden Wolves who made a special teams mistake just two minutes later. A bad snap on an Alvernia punt would lead to a safety and cut the lead to 14-8.
Peters would find Ryan Gaboury for a 6-yard scoring strike to tie the game early in the second. The UNE extra point would sail just left to keep it at 14-14.
Alvernia, which is also a first-year program, answered with a touchdown midway through the second to take a 21-14 lead, but UNE would respond with an impressive scoring drive to tie things back up.
Peters connected with Haelin Roberts on a 20-yard TD and Robert Inniss, Jr. nailed the extra point to make it 21-21 with 4:39 left in the half.
“We’ve had an issue starting fast on one side of the ball or the other. We righted the ship there in the second quarter and were able to get our feet on the ground a little bit. It just shows how important it is to come out focused with good energy and I’m glad we were able to get back to even by halftime,” said UNE head coach Mike Lichten.
The key stretch of the game for UNE would come in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
The Nor’easters went on a four-play, 62-yard drive to open the third with Devon Charles scoring on a 2-yard run to put UNE up 28-21.
Then the wheels would fall off for Alvernia as bad snaps on punts would give UNE incredible field position on back-to-back possessions.
The first would lead to a 3-yard TD run from Jack Mahoney and then Charles scored on a 13-yard scamper on the next special teams miscue to put UNE up 42-21 with 10:30 left in the third. Both scoring drives would last only one play after the Golden Wolves’ punting adventures.
“Special teams setting us up almost inside the 10 every time. We run one play and score a touchdown. That’s pretty easy. Great credit to our special teams and our defense for keeping us in the game,” said Peters, who finished with 164 yards and three scores on 13 of 22 passing.
Licthen was happy to see his special teams unit come up with big plays.
“We’ve been really focused on special teams the whole year really — trying to make big breaks in the game and put the pressure on the other team,” said Lichten. “I’m glad today our guys came through and were able to pressure their punt game a little bit and their kickoff game, too. It just speaks to the guys’ commitment to excellence in all three facets of the game.”
Alvernia added a touchdown midway through the fourth, but UNE was able to hang on for the victory from there.

Members of the University of New England football team lift up their youngest teammate — 11-year-old Scotty Carignan — as the Nor’easters celebrate their season-ending victory over Alvernia. PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

“We’re not going to be back with the team doing official stuff for eight months. Going out with a good W, against a pretty good team, that’s huge for building in the offseason because we know we have something special here and so building on top of this win is huge,” said Stanton-Meas.
The Nor’easters proved to themselves this season that they have what it takes to compete at the D3 level.
“It’s been a great experience. I can’t thank the people here enough. I think the only way from here is up. We’re a growing program and we have a lot of potential,” Peters said. “What we did this year, hanging in with varsity kids — with kids who are seniors and juniors — we hung in and put up a fight against some good teams.”
“It’s been a fun experience. It was a good year. It was a battle and you just have to grind every week,” added Berry.
Lichten reflected on his program’s wild first year following Saturday’s victory.
“It’s been interesting. We’ve had a game canceled. We played in a hurricane. We traveled all over New England and we’ve played some of the best teams in New England,” said Lichten.
The UNE coach was proud of his team’s effort this season — and Lichten will be expecting more of the same as they head into the offseason.
“I think our guys are very resilient, they are energized. I’m just hoping that they’re just as hungry each and every week coming back the whole offseason,” Lichten said.
NOTES: Charles finished with 75 rushing yards and two scores, while Mahoney ran for 63 yards and scored once … Miller caught three passes for 71 yards and one TD. Roberts had five receptions for 56 yards and the one score and Gaboury added four catches for 33 yards and one touchdown … Stanton-Meas led the UNE defense with 17 tackles, including 13 solo, and one for a loss. Former Leavitt standout DJ James made 12 stops and both GianCarlo Diaz and Franco Abbatessa had nine tackles in the win.
— Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 780-9017. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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