UPDATE 8/30 10:15 p.m. – The Brice-Cowell Musket is coming back to Maine.
In what's considered an upset based on recent meetings between the two rivals, UMaine defeated UNH in its home opener, 35-7, reclaiming ownership of the sought-after musket for the 44th time.
The Black Bears led from kickoff to the final whistle, jumping on the board first in the second quarter with a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Ferguson to Micah Wright. Then, Maine's defense scored a safety when a Wildcat punt sailed over the punter's head, making it 9-0 Black Bears.
Maine's Earnes Edwards scored two more touchdowns before halftime — one on the ground, a 17-yard rush, and one through the air, an 11-yard pass from Ferguson. Maine led UNH 22-0 at the half.
The Black Bears played some trickery in the third quarter when their tight end Drew Belcher hit Jaquan Blair for a 52-yard touchdown pass.
UNH eliminated the possibility of a shutout in the fourth with a 62-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Christia Lupoli, but Maine would add one more – just for good measure – when Maine native Joe Fitzpatrick found paydirt with a 14-yard run an amazing leap over the Wildcat defense.
Maine's 35-7 lead held for the game's final two minutes.
ORONO (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- What better way to kick off another college football season than with a rivalry game?
When UMaine and UNH face each other, it's always an exciting time, and Thursday's opener will be no different. This is a huge rivalry, although it has been a pretty one-sided rivalry this decade. Maine hasn't beat UNH since 2010 and the Wildcats have won 15 of the last 16 meetings.
Last year, the teams opened the season against each other down in Durham and the Wildcats pulled off a 24-23 win.
Maine is 26-27-3 all time at home against UNH, so they'll be looking for the cheers from the home crowd to help them even out tonight that record in Thursday night's game.
The "Battle for the Musket" (the trophy that the winning team takes home) has been going on since the 1940's. Maine has won 43 times, UNH has won 55 times and there have been eight ties.
Once again, this year's Wildcats team is very strong and ranked in the top ten in two national preseason polls. But this is a Maine team that has overcome a lot already, One of their own, Darius Minor, died suddenly during a preseason practice due to a heart condition. The Black Bears have found strength and support in each other and are ready to tackle whatever comes their way as a team.
This is particularly important game for players on both sides of the ball because it sets the tone for the season. So who will it be? Jess Gagne and Jackie Mundry will be in Orono covering the game and will have a post game wrap up tonight on NEWS CENTER Maine at 11.