Football: No. 23 Maine wins defensive struggle

Tim Richer

The Villanova offense was held in check all game by the University of Maine’s defense on Saturday in Orono, Maine. The Wildcats fell to the Black Bears 20-7.

‘Nova’s rushing attack was non-existent, accumulating a total of -39 yards on 23 rushing attempts. Quarterback Marvin Burroughs was sacked a season-high eight times.

Quarterback Ron Whitcomb led Maine as he completed 19 of 29 passes for 209 yards. Whitcomb connected with wide receiver Ryan Callahan for an 80 yard touchdown pass, just 38 seconds into the game.

On the ensuing kickoff, Maine recovered a bad bounce on the Villanova 22-yard line. The momentum carried the Black Bears, who never looked back.

The major discrepancy in the game occurred on the ground, where the Black Bears tallied 128 total yards, 165 more than the Wildcats’ rushing game.

“I really thought that our defense played well,” said head coach Andy Talley. “They gave a great effort – something to be very proud of. Unfortunately, our offense gave the defense no reason to get excited.”

Besides the early 80-yard touchdown strike, the ‘Cats’ defense clamped down and held Maine to just 129 passing yards the rest of the game. The ‘Nova passing attack had 209 total yards as well; however, they were unable to compensate for the lack of a ground game.

With their win, No. 23 ranked Maine (4-2, 3-0 A-10) now sits a top the Atlantic 10 North conference in a tie with No. 6 Massachusetts. Maine’s only two losses have come at the hands of DI-A No. 22 Boston College and DI-AA No. 5 Youngstown State.

Talley attributes Maine’s successes to their defense.

“They have an excellent defense. They have one of the best D’s in the league, if not the best.”

The Black Bears led 20-0 up until early in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats lone score came on a Marvin Burroughs eight-yard touchdown run.

Among the offensive leaders for ‘Nova was running back DeQuese May, who caught 10 passes for 61 yards, and wide receiver Chris Polite, who caught five passes for 80 yards.

“Chris Polite played a very good game,” Talley said. “He was our player of the game.”

Villanova (2-4, 1-2 A10) has an uphill battle to finish with a .500 record. They still have remaining games against ranked opponents: James Madison and Richmond.

Burroughs and the offense will look to rebound this Saturday at homecoming weekend. The Wildcats play host to Towson University (4-2, 1-2 A10), looking to avenge a 40-19 loss at Towson last year.