Football prepares for hibernation

James Evans

A season that started out with so much promise for the ‘Cats, could end up with them sitting at home this winter.

After the ‘Cats won their first six games, this team has fallen on hard times, losing three of their last four games, the most recent a 14-10 slugfest against Maine.

Head coach Andy Talley harped on the same mistakes from previous games that cost them the victory.

“It’s the same old story: turnovers cost us the game,” Talley said. “Maine has a great defense, and when you turn it over twice in the game and they score on both, it really hurts you.”

The ‘Cats were also playing in their worst conditions of the season. Playing in Maine in the middle of November would be hard on its own, but toss in a pretty tough Black Bear team and the ‘Cats were lucky to still be in there.

“It was tough conditions up there, playing in 15 degree weather and in front of a packed stadium,” Talley said. “It was all together a tough environment. “

‘Nova was playing in the final game of a three-game road trip that saw stops in Richmond, Hofstra and Maine.

The travel seemed to have gotten to the ‘Cats, as they came out sluggish and put up their weakest offensive threat of the season, only gaining 273 yards of total offense.

The game began with both teams trading possessions back and forth, and the first quarter ended with the game scoreless. Joe Casamento got the start at quarterback and seemed to be rusty after coming off his injury. He completed 18 of 34 passes for a season-low 134 yards. However, his big mistake came in the second quarter when he was picked by Maine’s Manauris Arias, who then took it the remaining 48 yards for a touchdown that spotted the Black Bears an early 7-0 lead with 8:15 left in the first half.

The ‘Cats wasted little time getting on the scoreboard.

After a personal foul on the kick-off, the ‘Cats had great field position at their own 46-yard line. ‘Nova then rushed six times and threw twice and was set up with a second and goal from the Maine 1-yard line. Casamento then took the ball on a quarterback sneak to score and tie the game at seven.

On the ensuing kick-off the Black Bears fumbled and the ‘Cats recovered and Adam James hit a 29-yard field goal to give the ‘Nova a 10-7 lead going into halftime.

The ‘Cats got the ball to start the third, but on the second play from scrimmage running back Terry Butler fumbled. On the next play Maine quarterback Ron Whitcomb hit Christian Pereira with a 15-yard pass and the Black Bears took a 14-10 lead that they would hold onto for good.

With the loss the ‘Cats’ record falls to 7-3 on the season and 5-3 in the Atlantic 10.

With a game this weekend against Delaware, it’s easy for the ‘Cats, a win they’re in, a loss they’re home for the holidays.

“Delaware is playing for the Atlantic 10 championship and we are playing for the national championship,” Talley said. “If we lose we’re done, but if we win we are in.”

The head coach also knows that ‘Nova has a good chance at winning the game against the No. 3 team in the nation, because they will be playing at home.

“We will be playing in a packed house that is sold out and I hope that it will be a crazy environment and a tough one,” Talley said.

‘Nova will be battling for their lives against the Blue Hens this Saturday at 4 p.m. at home.