Top moment in UMaine football’s 999-game history a ‘no-brainer’

Saturday’s game at Boston College is a milestone for the University of Maine football program.
The Black Bears’ contest against the Eagles of the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Bowl Championship Subdivision, is No. 1,000 in program history.
UMaine athletics this week counted down what it recognizes as the top 10 moments in its football history. Many fans haven’t been around long enough to have witnessed some of them, so it’s worth taking a quick look:
No. 10 — The 1978 Black Bears pulled off the “bat ball” play against New Hampshire. A field-goal attempt turned creative when holder Tony Trafton tossed the ball back to kicker Mike Hodgson, who batted it out of the air and into the end zone, where is was recovered for a touchdown by Dave Higgins. The game ended in a 7-7 tie and the NCAA subsequently outlawed such a play.
No. 9 — UMaine’s 1951 team is honored for being the program’s first to go undefeated (6-0-1), including 3-0-1 in the Yankee Conference. The squad posted four shutouts en route to an average winning margin of 22 points.
No. 8 — In 1961, the Black Bears wrapped up an unbeaten season (8-0-1, 5-0 YC) by blocking a field goal in the final seconds to beat Connecticut 2-0. It resulted in a league title.
No. 7 — In 1998, UMaine dedicated the rebuilt Morse Field at Alfond Stadium, honoring those families for financial support that has continued to be a boon to the football program. The Bears routed New Hampshire 52-28 in the Sept. 12 opener in front of 9,244 fans.
No. 6 — Brian Harvey kicked a 37-yard field goal in overtime as the Bears knocked off 14th-ranked archrival UNH 16-13 to claim the Brice-Cowell Musket in Orono on Oct. 2, 2010.
No. 5 — Tailback Marcus Williams broke a 41-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to help UMaine take a 14-13 lead over Appalachian State en route to victory in a 2002 NCAA playoff game at Boone, N.C.
No. 4 — In 1965, the Black Bears trailed Youngstown State 22-7 midway through the fourth quarter, but scored three touchdowns in the final 8:10 to earn a 27-22 victory. UMaine went on to win the YanCon title and earned a berth in the Tangerine Bowl, a feat that has not been repeated.
No. 3 — This play may be the most widely recognized highlight in UMaine football annals. On Oct. 8, 2011, backup quarterback Chris Treister ran for a two-point conversion that culminated in a “helicopter spin” as he dove into the end zone and gave the Bears a 25-24 win at No. 6 James Madison. The play was No. 2 on ESPN’s plays of the day and was seen by millions of sports fans around the world.
No. 2 — Tailback Royston English powered his way to 144 yards and a touchdown on Dec. 1, 2001, as UMaine won the program’s first NCAA postseason game with a 14-10 victory at McNeese State. English died of lung cancer in 2011.
No. 1 — Sept. 18, 2004, is a date no UMaine football fan should forget. Entering an era in which the Bears began playing big-time opponents for large financial guarantees, coach Jack Cosgrove’s team also earned a huge “bonus.” UMaine traveled to Starkville, Miss., in the heart of Southeastern Conference football country, and knocked off Mississippi State. The Bears’ defense forced three Bulldog turnovers inside the 5-yard line and the offense made some clutch plays in the second half to pull out the win in front of more than 43,000 partisan MSU fans. The clincher came with 2:55 to play when QB Ron Whitcomb hit Kevin McMahan in the end zone for what would prove to be the winning score.
That game was a testament to the caliber of young men UMaine continues to recruit and the quality coaches Cosgrove brings in. And although the Black Bears have been regular postseason contenders as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, UMaine teams continue to thrive on the underdog mentality that made the Mississippi State win one for the ages.

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About Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor Daily News Sports staff since 1984. Pete lives in Bangor with his wife of 32 years, Annia. They have two adult sons, Will and Paul. Pete is fluent in Spanish and enjoys visiting his in-laws and friends in Costa Rica. His hobbies including hunting, fishing and listening to jazz.