WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia (NEWS CENTER) -- For the second-straight week, the University of Maine's 'Black Hole' defense came up with a huge play late. With William & Mary driving the Black Bears leading by seven late, Najee Goode forced a fumble which was recovered by Jason Matovu with just 39-seconds left on Maine's 20-yard line. The Black Bears moved into victory formation, kneeling it out for their fifth-straight win, 35-28.
Maine, which improved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play, posted its second-highest yards total of the season (466). The Black Bears totaled five touchdowns from four different players, including a pair from Micah Wright. Wright finished with three catches for 40-yards and score while also returning a punt 67-yards for a score.
Quarterback Dan Collins went 19-for-33 for 280-yards with two touchdowns while Josh Mack and Zaire Williams added rushing scores. Earnest Edwards also found the end zone, finishing with four catches for 43-yards. Jeremy Salmon turned in a career-high four catch effort with a team-high 68-yards receiving.
Defensively, Maine forced three turnovers, giving the Black Bears eight over their past two games. Matovu made a game-high nine stops while Sterling Sheffield added eight solo tackles and a forced fumble.
Maine's second drive of the game was quick, efficient and ended with a score. In just 1:42, Collins and the offense moved 94-yards on five plays, finishing with the first touchdown of the game. Collins' dump off to Mack ended in a 43-yard gain off the screen before the senior quarterback hit Wright down the seam for a 26-yard score.
Following an interception by Sinmisola Demuren, Maine's sixth in its last two games, Collins and the offense put together another great drive. Beginning at their own 41-yard line, Collins hit Salmon for a 21-yard pickup as the tight end hurdled a defender down to the William & Mary 31. Maine reached the 1-yard line where Williams's carry was first ruled a touchdown. However, the play would be overturned but it wouldn't matter as William's pounded in the next play for a score. The point after was no good as Maine led, 13-0, after one quarter.
William & Mary got on the board early in the second quarter with an 18-yard touchdown reception by DaVonte Dedmon.
Maine regained a two score lead, this time using the ground attack to convert. Rushes of 11-yard and 18-yards by Collins and Mack, respectively, gave Maine first and goal before Mack bounced in for his fifth score of the year. A 2-point conversion by Collins to Salmon put the Black Bears on top, 21-7.
Once again taking advantage of great field position, the Black Bears' offense, starting from their own 44, moved into Tribe territory on a 24-yard completion to Salmon. A 17-yard rush by Williams continued the drive before Collins rolled out and found Edwards for a 15-yard touchdown. Maine, with its largest first half point total of the season, led 28-7.
Kendall Anderson's 23-yard score cut the Maine lead to 28-14, a score that would stand through the first half.
The Tribe took the opening drive of the second half 73-yard, using 6:09 on 13 plays before Anderson leaped into the endzone, cutting Maine's lead to 28-21.
Wright put the Black Bears back up by two scores with his second touchdown of the game, this time returning a punt 67-yards for the score. It was Maine's first punt return for a touchdown since Trevor Coston's return touchdown in 2011.
Steve Cluley's 4-yard touchdown run once again made it a one score game, 35-28 Maine, with 2:01 to play in the third.
The Tribe put together a late drive but, just like a week ago, Maine's defense came up with a big, game-ending play when Goode forced a fumble which was recovered by Matovu. Maine took over and kneeled it out for the 35-28 win.
Maine returns home next Saturday, Nov. 5 when it hosts Villanova.
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