ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- University of Maine quarterback Dan Collins threw three touchdown passes of over 40-yards as the Black Bears (3-3, 2-1 CAA) picked up their third-straight win, downing UAlbany (4-2, 1-2 CAA) by a score of 20-16 in front of a record-breaking crowd of 10,443 at Alfond Stadium.
Freshman Earnest Edwards scored his third touchdown in four games, finishing with 79-yards with a team-high four catches. Edwards added 30-yards on the ground and an 83-yard kick return, totaling 192-yards out of Maine's season-high 467-yards. Jared Osumah added 81-yards through the air while Jordan Dunn and Micah Wright each pulled down touchdowns.
Darian Davis-Ray led the rushing attack, racking up a career-high 81-yards on 16 carries, pacing Maine's 187-yards on the ground.
Maine's Black Hole defense came up with several big, drive-stopping plays. Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, the CAA leader in tackles, notched his fourth double-digit tackling performance of the year, leading all players with 13 stops. Darrius Hart chipped in a career-high 10 stops and added his second interception of the year. Jason Matovu continued his strong season, also reaching a career-high with 10 tackles.
UAlbany, which entered the day as the Football Championship Subdivison (FCS) leaders in turnover margin (+14) wasted no time capturing a take away when Mason Gray picked up off Collins on Maine's first series of the game.
The Great Danes turned the interception, their 12th of the year, into a 27-yard Ethan Stark field goal.
Maine was quick to respond when Wright went over his defended to pull in a 49-yard touchdown pass, giving Maine a 7-3 lead with 6:49 to play in the first quarter.
Another big play score came for Maine early in the second quarter when Collins worked off play-action before throwing a perfect 40-yard strike to Edwards in the front corner of the endzone.
UAlbany sliced into the 11-point Maine lead shortly after when a bad snap by the Black Bears ended up in their own endzone. The Great Danes took advantage, pouncing on the Black Bears to force a safety, before taking the ensuring nine play series 32-yards for a 39-yard field goal from Stark. Maine's lead was cut to five, 13-8.
The Black Bears looked to respond, driving down to the UAlbany 10 before a 28-yard field attempt sailed wide.
The momentum seemed to be in UAlbany's hands until Hart quickly put an end to the surge. Great Dane quarterback Neven Sussman lofted a pass downfield that Hart was able to leap and come down with, returning the interception to the UAlbany 38 and giving momentum back to Maine entering the half.
The Black Bears limited UAlbany to just 41-yards in the first half, holding Sussman to just one completion on 10 attempts.
The Great Danes looked to continue chipping into Maine's lead when they drove the opening possession of the second half down to the Maine 21. Sterling Sheffield, who narrowly missed an earlier block on a Stark field goal attempt, finally broke through, getting his hand on the 29-yard attempt.
Collins and the offense took full advantage of the big play by Sheffield. The Black Bears advance the ball to their own 49-yard line before Collins hit fellow senior Dunn for a 51-yard score. Dunn soared up and over a pair of UAlbany defenders, winning the battle in the air, and falling into the endzone, lifting Maine to a 20-8 lead just over five minutes into the third quarter.
The Great Danes answered, taking an early fourth quarter drive 68-yards, ending when Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks bounced in from a yard out. Sussman followed by hitting Jordan Crockett for a sucessful 2-point conversion, bring UAlbany back within four.
A fumble from Josh Mack on Maine's next drive gave the ball back to UAlbany on its own 36. The Black Hole continued to stand strong, forcing a three-and-out on the Great Danes' next possession, giving the ball back to Maine.
The Great Danes were able to hold Maine, getting the ball back just 1:55 later.
A second-down sack by Sheffield backed the Great Danes up to the Maine 46, forcing them to face a third and 19. Sussman and the offense picked up 12 on third down but a fourth down attempt fell incomplete, turning the ball over on downs with 1:43 to play.
Davis-Ray leaped over the line on a third-and-two, picking up three and it would be victory formation from there on out from the Black Bears, who picked up their third-straight win, 20-16.
Maine continues CAA action on Saturday, Oct. 22 when it travels to take on Rhode Island at noon.
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