Football travels to Maine for conference showdown

Pat Ralph

Coming off an impressive road win against the Penn Quakers last weekend, the Wildcats’ football team (3-1) will be looking for its fourth straight win this Saturday when it travels north to take on Maine in a CAA showdown.

Since their non-conference loss at Syracuse to open the season, the No. 5 Wildcats have been running on all cylinders, scoring 140 points in their last three wins. 

The Wildcats’ offensive success starts and ends with, not surprisingly, junior quarterback John Robertson. Through the Wildcats’ three straight wins, Robertson has thrown for 783 yards and 11 touchdowns, with a completion percentage of 75 percent. 

This past Saturday, Robertson was 15-of-21 for 230 yards and threw four touchdowns passes, which matched his career-high from the Wildcats’ home win over James Madison two weeks ago. 

Along with Robertson, the Wildcats’ multi-faceted offense has had an array of different playmakers step up each game. 

First and foremost, the Wildcats’ two-headed running attack of senior Kevin Monangai and junior Gary Underwood has been fantastic so far this season. 

While Monangai had a quiet game this past Saturday at Penn, Underwood picked up the load with a career-high 96 rushing yards and two rushing touchdown. 

There’s been no one who has enjoyed Robertson’s play so far this season more than his talented receivers, who have been the beneficiaries of Robertson’s passes. 

Over the last two games, senior tight end Earnest Pettway has been one of Robertson’s premier targets, having caught three touchdowns across both games. In addition, junior wide out Mike Burke has three receiving touchdowns of his own over the last two contests.

Besides the offense, the Wildcats’ defense has been incredible during the winning streak and was at its best this past Saturday at Penn. 

The defense had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the contest, as the Wildcats’ D has done great so far this season at forcing opponents’ turnovers.

As for the Wildcats’ opponent on Saturday, Maine enters the contest at 2-2 and also 1-0 in conference play this season. 

While the ’Cats first conference win this season came at home vs. James Madison, the Black Bears’ initial conference win came last weekend at Towson. Maine opened up the season with a win over Norfolk State, but followed that up with back-to-back losses at Bryant and Boston College.

Saturday’s game provides a great opportunity for the Wildcats to pick up another win and keep rolling. 

Maine’s defense is not the best, as it has allowed almost twice as many first downs to opposing offenses as they have gained themselves this season. 

In addition, opponents have combined to rush for almost 800 total yards against Maine’s defense. Therefore, it could be a big day for the Wildcats’ rushing attack. 

Although Maine’s running game is not the strongest, its passing game is one the Wildcats will have to contain on Saturday afternoon. Led by sophomore quarterback Dan Collins, the Black Bears have compiled 638 total passing yards. In Maine’s victory over Towson, Collins went 19-for-29 with a career-high 225 passing yards and two touchdowns. 

Maine’s pass defense has also done well so far this season, as they have been able to keep opposing teams from dominating through the air. 

However, that could all be very different when the Black Bears look across the field and see the Wildcats’ explosive offense. 

If the Wildcats can continue their dominance on both sides of the ball, a fourth straight win on Saturday is very likely. 

Saturday’s game at 12:30 p.m.  will not be on TV, but can be heard on CBS Sports Radio 610 AM.