ORONO, Maine – Maine was sound in all facets of the game on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Rhode Island Rams, 41-0 at Morse Field. With the victory the Black Bears clinch their first Colonial Athletic Association title and first conference title since 2002.
Offensively, Maine was led by the usual suspects, as quarterback Marcus Wasilewski completed 22-of-26 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns.
Running back Rickey Stevens was the squad's leading rusher as he carried the ball 14 times for 127 yards including a record-breaking 90-yard touchdown scamper in the first half.
John Ebeling led the receiving charge as he recorded seven catches for 85 yards and was one of three Black Bear receivers to find the endzone.
Defensively Cabrinni Goncalves led the "Black Hole" making eight tackles and one sack on the day, while Axel Ofori Jr. was another strong performer, making seven tackles and tallying one of two Maine interceptions.
The Black Bears took control of the contest early as they scored two touchdowns on their first two possessions.
Wasilewski drove Maine down field after the defense forced a turnover on downs as he found Arthur Williams with a 21-yard strike to open the scoring in the contest at the 13:03 mark of the first quarter.
After forcing a Rhode Island stop, it was Wasilewski again, who lofted a pass to a wide open Damarr Aultman as he reached pay dirt and the Black Bears increased their lead to 14-0 at the 9:08 mark of the first quarter.
Early into the second quarter Stevens dashed into the record books as he found daylight up the middle scampering 90-yards for the third Black Bear score. That run bested an 89-yard rush by Carl Smith in a game against Rutgers in 1991.
With the Rams down 21-0 midway through the second quarter Rhode Island started to gain traction in its offensive game.
Kolt Peavey opened the drive with a 49-yard pass to Jawaun Wynn putting the Rams deep into Black Bear territory. Following that play the Maine defense stiffened up and forced a fourth down. The Rams appeared to be attempting a field goal from the Maine 28-yard line but ran a fake punt instead. Senior Michael Cole and his teammates broke into the backfield and picked off a ball that was shoveled forward and ran back for 16 yards, giving Maine a drive start on the Rhode Island 49. The interception was the first pick for Cole in his collegiate career.
The Black Bears scored on the ensuing drive as Wasilewski found a wide-open Ebeling down the right sideline as he sprinted towards the goal line and dove in for his only score of the contest.
A 38-yard, Sean Decloux field goal make, gave Maine a 38-0 advantage at halftime.
The Black Bears outgained the Rams 364-125 in total offense while holding Rhode Island to 24 rushing yards on 19 attempts.
Stevens struck again in the third quarter as he punched it in from 2-yards out to give Maine a 38-0 lead, while Decloux closed out the scoring at the 4:17 mark of the fourth quarter, nailing a 36-yard field goal to give Maine its final score of 41-0.
The defense rebounded from a rocky game against Albany last weekend as they held Rhode Island to 244 yards of total offense and only 51 yards on the ground for the Rams.
Likewise the offense gashed Rhode Island for 501 total yards with nearly 200 yards rushing and 307 yards through the air.
While the Black Bears clinched the CAA title for the first time in program history their attention now turns to its rivalry game next weekend. Maine attempts to bring home "the musket", next Saturday, Nov. 23. That game is slated for noon in Durham, N.H. and can be seen on Comcast SportsNet.