University of Maine football coach Nick Charlton called Saturday’s 45-24 victory over Rhode Island “probably as close to a complete effort” as the Black Bears have played all season.

And officials of the Colonial Athletic Association took notice, honoring two Black Bears for their efforts in Maine’s third consecutive conference victory.

Linebacker Ray Miller was named CAA Co-Defensive Player of the Week while running back Freddie Brock was named the league’s Rookie of the Week.

Miller, a grad transfer from Campbell University, had 11 tackles, three tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks in the win. Brock, a sophomore from Rochester, New York, rushed for a career-high 123 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown.

Charlton, speaking Monday on the CAA’s weekly coaches Zoom conference, said both had a huge impact in the outcome, which lifted the Black Bears to 4-4 overall, 3-3 in the league, heading into Saturday’s final home game of the season, against Stony Brook at noon.

Miller led a defensive charge that helped Maine build a 24-3 lead at the half – outgaining the Rams 340-91 in those first two quarters – then withstand a Rhode Island surge in the third quarter. Maine held the Rams to just 68 rushing yards – 80 below their season average coming in. Rhode Island was just 2 of 12 on third-down conversions.

“Ray has had an obvious impact on the game,”  said Charlton. “He’s an outstanding human being, a tremendous presence of the field. And the stats reflect that.”

Brock became the first Black Bears running back to rush for over 100 yards in a game since Sept. 21, 2019. His 18-yard touchdown run with 4:58 remaining sealed the victory.

“Freddie obviously had a very big impact on the game,” said Charlton. “The one thing that’s been missing and what we’ve been needing is explosive runs in the running game, getting on the perimeter and making people miss (tackles). He did that a number of times in the ballgame.

“He’s starting to really understand the game. He’s physically gifted, he has talents. … He’s becoming more of a complete player. He’s still a young player, he comes to work every day. The sky’s the limit for him.”

Even with the three consecutive victories, Charlton said the Black Bears aren’t thinking about a possible playoff run.

“We don’t talk in terms of playoffs here,” he said. “What I’ve said before is, everything’s still in front of us. We need to respect every opponent we play. We’re facing a very good Stony Brook team (3-5, 2-3 in the CAA) coming off a bye. We know we have our work cut out for us.”

NOTES: Charlton said that quarterback Joe Fagnano, who has been out with a high right ankle sprain since the second game of the season, would return to practice Monday night. “We’ll see what his timetable is, but he will be practicing,” said Charlton. Derek Robertson has started in his place and threw four touchdown passes against Rhode Island.


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