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Maine plays tough defense against nation's top team

UMaine unable to capitalize on turnovers against UNH
UMaine Football


ORONO, Maine -- From the University of Maine:

The University of Maine's defense kept #1 New Hampshire (10-1, 8-0 CAA) in check, forcing six Wildcat turnovers but fell in the end by a score of 20-12 on Saturday evening at Alfond Stadium.

Maine's defense limited the high powered New Hampshire offense, which entered Saturday's game averaging 38.7 points and 462.5 yards per game, to just 287-total yards; 169 through the air. The Black Hole defense picked off New Hampshire

quarterback Sean Goldrich three times and forced a trio turnovers on fumbles but the Black Bears could not take advantage of the take aways. Christophe Mulmba Tshimanga (Laval, Que.) led the defensive effort with a game-high 12 tackles with a sack. Fellow linebacker Cabrinni Goncalves (Taunton, Mass.) recorded two interceptions with eight tackles while Trevor Bates (Westbrook, Maine) and Devin Clark (Baltimore, Md.) each added eight stops.

Maine's freshman quarterback Drew Belcher (Reading, Mass.) went 11-for-25 through the air for 92-yards while adding 14-yards and a score on the ground.

The Black Bears controlled play in the first quarter as they held the ball for 11:38 out of the 15-minutes and limited New Hampshire to just 11-yards of offense.

Goncalves put Maine in great position early as he picked off New Hampshire's first play of the day on offense. The Black Bears took over on their own 41-yard line before Sean Decloux (Ottawa, Ontario) gave Maine a 3-0 lead with a 31-yard field goal.

New Hampshire took the lead in the second quarter when Nico Steriti rushed his way in from 5-yards out. A 2-point conversion attempt by the Wildcats would fail as they led 6-3 with 11:40 left in the half.

Following a Black Bear fumble, New Hampshire drove down to the Black Bears' 1-yard line. However, Maine's defense held its own from the goal line, shutting down the Wildcats on a fourth down try.

New Hampshire would get the ball back following a Maine three-and-out. On the first play from scrimmage, Goldrich hit Jimmy Giansante for a 41-yard touchdown. This time the Wildcats converted on a 2-point try, extending its lead to 14-3.

The Wildcats threatened to score again late in the half as they marched down to the Maine 2-yard line. Goncalves put an end to the threat as he picked off his second pass of the day to send Maine into the half trailing by 11.

Maine chipped into New Hampshire's lead midway through the third quarter. After an interception from Austin Brown (Easton, Pa.) set up Maine at the UNH 26-yard line, Belcher and the Maine offense picked their way down to the New Hampshire 11 before Decloux knocked through a 28-yard attempt.

New Hampshire answered on the ensuing, driving 88-yard in 5:18 and capping the drive with a 1-yard touchdown rush from Goldrich to take a 20-6 lead.

Maine cut the lead down to eight in the fourth quarter. Belcher hit Jeremy Salmon (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) for a 23-yard gain down to the UNH 30-yard line before Jerickson Fedrick's (Salem, N.H.) 16-yard rush put the Black Bears down inside the 20. The Black Bears kept plugging away until Belcher sprinted in untouched from 1-yard out. Maine would trail by eight with 6:25 to go after a missed point-after attempt.

The Black Bears would get the ball back and have one last shot with 2:40 left from their own 1-yard line. Belcher hooked up with Jordan Dunn (Hamilton, N.J.) for three completions out to the Maine 25-yard line but would be interceptioned on a 2nd-and-10 try from the 27.

The Wildcats took a knee and held on for the 20-12 victory.