The hole was tiny, but Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski waited as long as possible for there to be enough room to sneak through.
When the window opened, he didn’t hesitate, bouncing off blockers until he found the open field, then dashing through the University of Massachusetts defense until he reached the end zone.
The 39-yard touchdown sucked the air out of the scattered crowd at Gillette Stadium Saturday, on hand for the Minutemen’s second home opener as a Bowl Championship division team.
Maine was on its way to a 24-14 victory, but the implications went beyond the score.
Facing a Championship Subdivision team for the first time jumping to the FBS, Mass was held to just 265 total yards.
Meanwhile, Maine overcame three turnovers by putting up 514 total yards.
With 267 yards on 20-of-28 passing, Wasilewski moved into ninth place on the Black Bears’s all-time passing list, leapfrogging head coach Jack Cosgrove.
Maine’s Zedreic Joseph and Rickey Stevens combined to rush for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
After a 45-0 season-opening loss to Wisconsin, UMass came out flat again.
From sophomore return man Trey Dudley-Giles muffing a punt and then fair-catching another inside his own 10, to senior punter Colter Johnson shanking two of his first three kicks, errors on special teams — both mental and physical — killed UMass’ drives before they ever started.
UMass quarterback Mike Wegzyn went 13 of 25 for 139 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. His main target, Tajae Sharpe, set career highs with 11 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
The win was Maine’s second ever over a FBS team.Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.