ORONO — It wasn’t perfect, and it was probably a lot closer in the end than the University of Maine’s football team wanted, but the Black Bears aren’t complaining.

Adrian Otero’s interception in the end zone with 2:30 remaining was the clincher as Maine defeated William & Mary 27-16 on Saturday at Alfond Stadium, earning its first Colonial Athletic Association win of the season and snapping the Tribe’s win streak at four.

The Black Bears led 24-0 in the third quarter, and 27-8 after a 42-yard field goal by Jonny Messina with 11:50 remaining, then watched nervously as the Tribe battled back. A 76-yard touchdown pass and 2-point conversion brought them within eight, and then William & Mary threatened again with first-and-goal at 2 before Otero picked off a pass by Darius Wilson.

“We just needed a win, however we got it,” said Maine Coach Nick Charlton. “I’d like to make it a little easier than that at the end there, but we really needed a win.”

The victory lifted Maine to 1-3 in the CAA and 2-4 overall, snapping a two-game losing skid. William & Mary dropped to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the CAA.

“It’s great to get the momentum back,” said senior wide receiver Devin Young, who led Maine with six catches for 81 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown. “My last year (2019, Young opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19) was similar to this. We were losing, then got a win and started a win streak after that. I believe this can be the same thing.”

Maine played a complementary game, with balance on offense (194 rushing yards, 223 passing yards) and three forced turnovers by the defense. The Black Bears twice stopped the Tribe inside the 20, and the offense extended several drives with big conversions (10 for 19 on third down, 3 for 3 on fourth down). Maine ran 83 plays to just 55 for the Tribe.

Those were things the team worked on all week in an attempt to regroup after a disappointing 33-23 loss to Elon.

“It really was a great week of practice,” said Charlton. “Sunday was a very difficult day for this program. We had some very serious conversations about this program and what we needed to do. And I think (the players) took that and ran with that. … That’s a quality team in the CAA and we got a win.”

Sophomore Freddie Brock scored two touchdowns – a 7-yard pass from Derek Robertson and a 22-yard run – and led Maine with 86 rushing yards. Maine averaged 4.5 carries on its 43 rushes.

Robertson completed only 20 of 40 passes for 223 yards, but he wasn’t sacked by a team that was tied for 11th in the Football Championship Subdivision with 16 sacks. Robertson was at his best on third down, completing 9 of 14 passes for 104 yards, six first downs and two touchdowns. He also rushed for two first downs – gaining 16 yards on third-and-10 and 7 yards on fourth-and-7 – and completed a fourth-down pass for a first down.

“I’m out there, and you’ve just got to go out there and make a play,” said Robertson. “It’s that simple.”

Maine led 17-0 at the half, then added to its cushion when Young caught a 35-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Young reached back to tip the ball into the air after it deflected off the back of a defensive back, then cradled it into his arms.

“When I was running, he had my arm and I just kind of tried to fight through it and keep my other arm free,” said Young. “And I was able to tip it to myself.”

Then the Black Bears held on.

“You’ve got to play four quarters of football,” said William & Mary Coach Mike London. “And they played four quarters; they made the plays they needed to make to win the game and we fell short.”

 

 

 

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