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UMaine blanked in football season opener against Delaware

The Black Bears couldn't' get anything going on offense as the Blue Hens took care of business 37-0 Saturday.
Credit: Delaware Athletics

NEWARK, Del. — Just a small crowd was on hand to watch the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) battle between the University of Maine and the University of Delaware Saturday afternoon.

It was both team's first game in 469 days and the home team made quick work during its matchup of this six-game spring season.

Dejoun Lee returned the opening kick 87-yards to the endzone to put the Blue Hens up 6-0 just 13 seconds into the game. The extra point followed, along with 30 consecutive points as the Black Bears were shutout 37-0.

That special teams' score was the only play to put points on the board for either side in the first quarter. Delaware scored 10 points in each of the next three.

Being left off the score sheet isn't the best start to the season and following the game head coach Nick Charlon called the loss one of the toughest of his career.

"Unfortunately it starts and ends with me as the head coach and we weren't prepared enough to win this game and Delaware's a good football team," he said.

"At the end of the day, we played poorly across the board and we got to be able to get the offense going, we didn't execute." 

His defense was on the field for more than 38 minutes Saturday as the offense stalled all afternoon only converting six first downs in the entire game.

Quarterback Joe Fagnanao did not pick up where he left off from the 2019 season. The sophomore completed 10 throws on 23 attempts for just 61 yards. 

The Black Bears never established the running game either as Tavion Banks led the team with 19 rushing yards on five carries. The team totaled 51 yards on the ground.

Old Town native and wide receiver Andre Miller was targeted seven times, catching three passes for 32 yards to lead the team. 

Delaware succeeded in all three phases of the game Saturday. Eight players recorded multiple carries, Lee led all rushers with 14 touches and 85 yards.

Quarterback Nolan Henderson threw for 146 yards, a touchdown, and an interception against the Black Bears defense that featured Deshawn Stevens making his return to the gridiron after injury kept him sidelined for 19 months,

"It was a humbling, out of this world feeling to be back in pads," the senior captain said.

Stevens said he was proud of how his teammates fought for all four quarters but recognized the mistakes made at all three levels of the defense.

Now, he added, the whole team needs to take whatever positives it can find from Saturday's loss and prepare for next week. 

"That's all it's going to take, learn from the mistakes tomorrow, come back for the rest of the week and come back and be the best out there," he said.

It's a game Charlton, Stevens, and UMaine fans would like to put past them. The best way to do that is to play well in next week's home game against the University of Albany.

UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy announced last month the Black Bears could host home games in Orono with no fans.

The good news for Maine fans, Albany took down the University of New Hampshire on Friday night. The bad news, the Great Danes are a top-15 team in the nation and are coming off a hard-fought road win before they face the Black Bears.

Kickoff from an empty Alfond Stadium is noon on Saturday, March 12.


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