Football Defeats Norfolk St. 23-6 in Season Opener
NORFOLK, Va. -- Just when it felt like Norfolk St. was gaining some second half momentum, Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski (Kulpmont, Pa.) rolled out off play-action and found a streaking Zedric Joseph (West Palm Beach, Fla.) for an 85-yard touchdown catch and run. The score gave Maine a 20-6 lead which it would not relinquish as it picked up its first win of the season, defeating Norfolk St. 23-6 on Saturday evening.
Wasilewski finished the Black Bear opener 15-for-28 with 209 yards and a touchdown. Fellow senior Derrick Johnson (Hempstead, N.Y.) was a favorite target as he hauled in eight catches for 82 yards.
Maine's defense kept the Spartans in check all night as it allowed just six points on a touchdown while holding the Norfolk St. rushing attack to 80-yards. Cabrinni Goncalves (Taunton, Mass.) led the defensive attack with career highs in both tackles (13) and sacks (2.0).
The Black Bears kept the ball in the Norfolk St. side of the field for the opening 6:16 of the first quarter. Using a fumbled punt from the Spartans and some stellar defense from the Black Bears, Maine kicker Sean Decloux (Ottawa, Ontario) was able to convert on a 33-yard field goal, giving Maine an early 3-0 edge.
The Black Bear defense closed out the first quarter strong as Maine linebacker Christophe Mulumba (Montreal, Quebec) backed off into coverage and made an athletic play, lunging to his right for his first career interception as he picked off Spartan quarterback Tyler Clark. Decloux and the Maine offense benefited on the turnover by adding another field goal, this time from 41-yards, to build the Maine lead to 6-0 just seconds into the second quarter. Clark would be replaced on the following Spartan drive.
After forcing the Spartans to punt with 12:48 to play in the first half, Maine's offense went to work. Johnson highlighted an eight play, 63-yard drive with a beautiful catch racing down the Maine sideline as the senior wide receiver pulled in the ball on a 33-yard connection from Wasilewski. Rickey Stevens (Rochester, N.Y.) capped the drive by bouncing into the end zone from 2-yards out as Maine built its lead to 13-0.
Norfolk St. chipped away at the Maine lead when Malik Stokes hooked up with Joseph Hawkins for a 34-yard score. Spartan kicker Ryan Lee missed the PAT try as the Black Bears continued to lead 13-6 with 5:57 left in the half.
Backed up at their own five yard line, Wasilewski faked a hand off to Joseph, curled around, and hit Joseph with a short pass. The Spartans bit on the fake as Joseph was off to the races for an 85-yard score, giving Maine a 20-6 edge with 7:14 to play in the third quarter.
Late in the fourth quarter, Decloux tacked on his third field goal of the night to run the Maine lead to 23-6.
Maine continues non-conference play when it travels to Gillette Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7 for a 2 PM kick-off against FBS foe UMass. Join the Black Bears at the home of the New England Patriots for the game as well as the "Biggest Black Bear Tailgate" event. For more info on tickets and bus package, visit UMaine.edu or GoBlackBears.com(.) The game can be seen at ESPN3.com(.)