5 interceptions lead Maine to 4th straight win

KINGSTON, R.I. -- Jason Matovu's interception, the fifth of the day for Maine, in the Black Bears' own endzone as time expired locked up Maine's fourth consecutive victory as the Black Bears defeated Rhode Island, 28-21. The win, Maine's 10th in a row over Rhode Island, lifts the Black Bears to 4-3 on the year and 3-1 in Colonial Athletic Association action.

Dan Collins' 43-yard touchdown pass to Micah Wright with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference. Wright finished the day with seven catches for 97-yards and two touchdowns while Collins went 13-for-30 with 147-yards and two scores.

For the third time in four weeks, Maine's rushing attack went over 180-yards, totaling 201-yards on the ground against the Rams, led by Josh Mack's 11 carries for 115-yards and a 65-yard touchdown.

The Black Hole defense forced six turnovers for the first time since 2013. Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, the CAA leader in tackles per game, once again led Maine with seven tackles. Taji Lowe added a career-high six stops while Pat Ricard chipped in his fourth sack of the season.

Facing a third and eight on its opening series, Collins hit Wright for a 13-yard first down to keep the Black Bears moving. Two plays later, Mack bounced outside, sprinting down the Maine sideline and breaking a pair of tackles inside the 10 before crossing the goal line for a score. Patrick Leonard's extra point put gave Maine a 7-0 lead, 2:40 into the first quarter.

On its third drive, Rhode Island quarterback Jordan Vazzano threw a pass into double coverage which was tipped by Tayvon Hall before falling into the hands of Hart. Hart returned his third pick of the season, and second in as many games, down to the URI 21. However, Maine would come up empty on the drive after being stopped on a 4th-and-inches attempt.

The Rams tied things up at 7-7 when Vazzano hit Marven Beauvais with a 25-yard score on the second play of the second quarter.

Wright was at the beginning and the end of the Black Bears' next scoring play, beginning the series with a 20-yard punt return over midfield and down to the URI 33. A 21-yard strike from Collins to Marquise Adams carried Maine to the URI 12 before the senior quarterback hit Wright just short of the goal line. Wright stretched into the endzone as Maine regained the lead, 14-7, with 9:07 left in the half.

The Black Hole came up with another big play late in the second half, putting an end to a URI drive when Najee Goode pulled down his third career interception deep in Maine territory.

With 4:29 remaining in the third quarter, Vazzano rushed around the edge, 5-yards on the keeper and into the endzone, knotting the score at 14-all.

The Black Hole struck again late in the third. A heavy rush off the edge created a disturbance in the URI backfield as Vazzano's pass was tipped by Kayshawn Wilson. Walsh pulled the ball down out of the air and sprinted down the sideline for a 48-yard score, giving Maine a 21-14 edge.

The Rams once again tied the game after Vazzano hit Aaron Parker for a 65-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

A big third-down sack from Pat Ricard foreced URI to punt from its own endzone. Following the punt, Maine took over at its own 45. Two plays later, Collins found Wright for the duos second scoring hookup of the day, this time for 43-yards, giving Maine a 28-21 advantage with 6:35 remaining.

Rhode Island began its final drive of the contest with 2:02 to play. Vazzano maneuvered the offense down the field, converting on a third-and-10 and a fourth-and-9, to bring the Rams to the Maine 18-yard line with just 11-seconds to play. Vazzano's toss into the endzone was tipped into the air by Sterling Sheffield and corralled by Matovu, sealing Maine's fourth-straight win and 10th in a row over the Rams.

Maine continues CAA action on Saturday, Oct. 29 when it travels to take on William & Mary at 3:30 p.m.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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