ORONO — In its first four games, the University of Maine football team struggled to find any sort of offensive continuity, scoring a total of 39 points.

On Saturday afternoon at Alfond Stadium, the Black Bears exceeded their season’s scoring output in the first half. They found their offensive rhythm, plus a little extra they pulled out from the back of the playbook. The result was a 56-28 win over Stony Brook in front of 5,243 fans.

The win was the first of the season for Maine (1-4, 1-2 in the Coastal Athletic Association), and snapped a nine-game losing streak that dated back to last October. Stony Brook dropped to 0-5, 0-4 in conference play. Saturday’s game was Maine’s first in three weeks against an unranked opponent, and the Black Bears opened the season at Florida International, a Football Bowl Subdivision team.

“I knew they were a better team than that 0-4 record. To be very candid with you, they had a tough schedule, and they played through it. They certainly showed up today,” said Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore.

This was Maine’s highest-scoring game since a 55-27 win over Jacksonville State in the second round of the 2018 FCS playoffs. The Black Bears entered the game averaging just 252.5 yards of offense per game. They more than doubled that against the Seawolves, finishing with 512 yards. Twelve players caught at least one pass for Maine, which gained 425 yards through the air.

“Those are all things we’ve been talking about, those areas of the game we need to be better focused in getting the job done,” said Maine coach Jordan Stevens. “I think it shows what we’re capable of on offense.”


After throwing no touchdown passes over the first four games, Maine senior quarterback Derek Robertson had the best game of his career, throwing five touchdown passes in three quarters of work. Robertson completed 25 of 30 passes, for 394 yards. Joe Gillette (four catches, 96 yards) had touchdown catches of 55 and 34 yards, while Montigo Moss (five catches, 108 yards) had touchdown grabs of 41 and 27 yards.

“We had a great week of practice. We had a lot of confidence going into this game. When you’ve got guys around you who are doing great things, it makes it a lot easier,” Robertson said.

The Black Bears worked quickly, often in hurry-up mode, and went deep into the playbook for a pair of touchdowns. With 6:25 left in the first quarter, Trevin Ewing took a reverse handoff from Robertson for a 30-yard touchdown run and a 21-0 lead. In the final minute of the quarter, Moss’ 41-yard touchdown catch came on a flea flicker, and pushed Maine’s lead to 28-0. Moss said he saw off the line the Seawolves lost sight of him, and he knew he’d be wide open.

Executing on first and second down allowed the Black Bears to get more creative in play calling, Stevens said.

“When you do that, you have opportunities to open up the playbook. It’s staying ahead of the chains, staying on pace,” Stevens said.

Maine was opportunistic, turning two of Stony Brook’s three turnovers into touchdowns. The first came when defensive lineman Xavier Holmes forced and recovered a fumble on the Seawolves’ first play of the game, setting the offense up on the Stony Brook 33. Six plays later, Tristen Kenan’s 1-yard touchdown run gave the Black Bears a 7-0 lead.


“Getting the turnover on the first down on defense really sparked us. From there, I think we just executed really well,” Stevens said.

Abdul Stewart’s interception and 53-yard return to the Seawolves 2-yard line midway through the third quarter set up Robertson’s fifth touchdown pass, a 2-yard connection with tight end Cooper Heisey on third down that gave Maine a 56-14 lead.

The Black Bears were focused on stopping the run, Holmes said, and they did, limiting Stony Brook to 56 yards on the ground through three quarters before pulling starters in the fourth,

Stony Brook quarterback Casey Case completed 22 of 37 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns with an interception. Jayden Cook had seven catches for 117 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Seawolves.

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