ORONO, Maine -- The University of Maine football team (6-5, 5-3) ended its season with a 24-21 loss at home to New Hampshire (7-4, 6-2 CAA) in Saturday evening's season finale at Alfond Stadium. The Black Bears, who carried a 14-7 lead into the half, battled back late to tie the game with 5:02 left. However, the Wildcats capitalized on their final drive with a 21-yard field goal for the win.
Dan Collins went 11-for-28 with 202-yards and two touchdowns, finishing his Maine career ranked seventh in history with 4,860-yards and 33 touchdowns. Micah Wright led the offense with five catches for 121-yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Freshman Earnest Edwards added three catches for 44-yards. Edwards also threw a touchdown pass on a trick-play and completed his rookie season with a passing touchdown, receiving touchdown, rushing touchdown and a kickoff return for a score. Josh Mack added 77-yards on the ground on 21 carries.
Black Bear Nation came through with tremendous support all season as Maine set a new single-season attendance record, hosting 41,154 fans during the season and averaging 8,231 per game.
Over 700 total yards were produced during the 105th meeting between Maine and New Hampshire with the Wildcats holding a slight 390-339 edge in offense. Defensively, Maine produced 3.0 sacks with seniors Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga (1.5) and Pat Ricard (1.5) splitting the backfield take downs. Mulumba produced his sixth double-digit tackling performance of the year, making a game-high 11 stops with 2.5 tackles for loss. Maine's senior linebacker was constantly around the ball for his four years, ending with 447 total tackles in 42 games (10.2 tpg). Ricard added 2.5 TFLs, finishing his career with an impressive 47.5 tackles for loss.
Maine jumped out to a 7-0 lead with a score in the closing minutes of the first quarter. The Black Bears took advantage of great field position at the New Hampshire 29, advancing the ball to the 13 before catching the Wildcats off-guard with some trickery. Collins snapped the ball and handed off to Edwards on what looked to be an end-around. However, Edwards stopped and floated a pass into the endzone where Jared Osumah came down with the touchdown reception.
It was New Hampshire's defense which finally got the Wildcats on the board. With 14-seconds left in the opening quarter, Pop Lacey jumped the route on a Collins pass, snatching the ball out of the air and returning it 44-yards for the score.
Early in the second quarter it was Maine's defense which made the big play. The Wildcats drove all the way down to the Maine 15 where Austin Brown came up with a huge interception on the five-yard line to keep what looked like sure points off the board. Maine quickly moved the ball down field, picking up 17-yards on a first down rush from Mack before Collins his Jaquan Blair for a 19-yard gain. Three plays later, Collins found a wide-open Wright 45-yards down field for the touchdown.
Maine would carry its 14-7 lead into the half.
New Hampshire was once again able to tie the game, this time on a 35-yard rush from Dalton Crossan with 5:31 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats grabbed their first lead early in the fourth. A 16 play, 74-yard drive ended when Adam Riese hit Neil O'Connor for a 10-yard touchdown.
Maine wasn't done fighting. Collins and the offense regrouped two drives later as the senior found Edwards for 18-yards down to the New Hampshire 29. Three-straight plays with no-gain presented Maine with a fourth and 10. Collins lofted as pass into the front corner of the end zone where Wright was able to elevate over his defender and come down with the touch catch. With the point-after, Maine and New Hampshire once again were tied, 21-all, with 5:02 remaining.
However, the Wildcats responded with a 12 play, 64-yard drive which concluded with a 21-yard field goal from Morgan Ellman.
Maine had one last chance with a hail mary from its own 26 but the attempt fell incomplete as New Hampshire escaped with a 24-21 victory.
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