With No Margin For Error, Maine Heads To Elon


If Maine stretches its winning streak to three games by beating Elon on the road Saturday, it will have to do so without cornerback Manny Patterson.

Patterson, a preseason first-team All-American, became the latest Maine player to have his season end prematurely when he sustained a knee injury during the first half of Saturday’s victory at Albany.

“He’s meant a lot to this program,” Maine coach Nick Charlton said. “He embodies what we try to put across through our culture. He’s an elite player who will keep playing at the next level.”

Watch Maine vs Elon LIVE on FloFootball

The Black Bears (4-5, 2-3 Colonial Athletic Association) also lost starting quarterback Chris Ferguson and linebacker Deshawn Stevens to season-ending injuries earlier this season. Ferguson sustained a foot injury during a 24-17 loss to Richmond on Oct. 12, and Stevens, the team’s leading tackler last season, tore his Achilles tendon during a season-opening 42-14 victory over Sacred Heart.

Patterson, a senior, recorded 29 tackles five pass breakups in nine games this season. 

“This year, unfortunately, we’ve had a lot of adversity that way,” Charlton said. “The guys are very focused right now. We just have to keep that day-to-day focus. It’s all in the moment right now.”

Elon (4-5, 3-3) had its hopes of reaching postseason play all but erased with Saturday’s 31-29 loss to William & Mary in five overtimes. The Phoenix has only two games remaining. Maine has three.

“We’re still playing for a lot,” Elon coach Tony Trisciani said. “I know the playoff hopes have dwindled with (the William & Mary) loss and a lot of guys beating each other in our league this year. We’re certainly focused on one game, and that’s Maine. It’s senior day here. It’s their last home game in Rhodes Stadium. I want to see these guys go out winners.” 

Working Overtime

The tweak the NCAA made to overtime rules came into play during Elon’s loss to William & Mary. Once the game reached the fifth overtime the teams each attempted a two-point conversion rather than take possession on the 25-yard line, as was the case for the first four overtime periods. 

After William & Mary scored in the fifth overtime, Elon’s attempt to force a sixth overtime came up short when quarterback Davis Cheek had his pass broken up.

Tricisani said it was extra-tough to lose in that fashion.

“I understand the rule and the reason why and the player-safety piece of it, but it’s a bit frustrating when you play all that football and it ended up coming down to a play,” he said. “Kind of like penalty kicks I guess. You play a lot of football you hate to see it end that way, especially if you’re on our end.”

A Balancing Act

Maine has surpassed 400 yards of offense in each of its three games since true freshman Joe Fagnano replaced Ferguson as Maine’s quarterback. Perhaps more important is the fact that the Black Bears have gained 160 yards on the ground in each of their last two games, victories over William & Mary (34-25) and Albany (47-31). The Black Bears, who are 10th among CAA teams in rushing offense, picked up 164 yards on the ground against William & Mary and rushed for 169 yards against Albany.

“I think Joe is very poised,” Charlton said. “He can do a lot of different things, so we try to tailor things to what he does well. We have some skill players who really can make a lot of plays out on the perimeter and we’ve been able to run the football.” 

Maine still leads the CAA in passing offense (315.2 ypg).

“I think they’re playing some really good football right now,” Trisciani said. “Coming off back-to-back wins. They’ve been more balanced. They’ve been able to run the ball the last couple games. I understand how strong the passing game is and has been for them this season, but the ability to be more balanced makes it hard to defend.”

Top to Bottom

Elon leads the CAA in turnover margin at plus-7. Maine is at the bottom of the conference in that category at minus-7.

D'Eriq King To Arkansas? A Knee-Jerk Observation

A beautiful thing happened as LSU’s coronation tour neared its grand conclusion on Monday night: Breaking news, as D’Eriq King Tweeted, “Just kidding, I’m definitely leaving Houston — probably always was.”

Mecole Hardman Sparked A Chiefs Comeback, But First He Called His Shot

With Kansas City trailing Houston 24-0 in the second quarter of Sunday's AFC Divisional round playoff game, Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman returned a kick from his own end zone all the way back to the Texan 42-yard line, injecting life into his team and into a rabid crowd at Arrowhead Stadium.

James Madison Fell Short, But The Dukes Aren't Going Anywhere

FRISCO, Texas — Were James Madison and North Dakota State to play 100 times, it’s easy to predict that they would split the series 50-50. 

The Stage Is Set For An FCS Championship For The Ages

FRISCO, Texas -- Although James Madison and North Dakota State ended the 2018 season on much different notes, their paths to meeting in the 2019 season’s title game were similar. And the gap between them now feels immeasurable.  

The Only Thing Bigger Than Ron'Dell Carter's Personality Is His Game

FRISCO, Texas -- Draw up a blueprint for the ideal football star: What qualities spring to mind? 

Power Five Transfers Have Fueled JMU's Run To Frisco

FRISCO, Texas -- They came from the ACC, the American, the Big Ten to be here in Texas, by way of Harrisonburg. 

3 Things To Watch As James Madison Aims To Dethrone North Dakota State

Pair two teams as similar — and as excellent — as James Madison and North Dakota State, and just a single facet can completely change the game.

Rivalry Or Not, It's Always North Dakota State & JMU At The Top

FRISCO, Texas — Ben DiNucci handled the question about as diplomatically as one could want when asked about North Dakota State back in November. 

As 'Winter Camp' Ends, Dukes & Bison Are Ready To Roll

FRISCO, Texas -- The three-week layoff between the FCS semifinals and National Championship has a name at North Dakota State. 

It's Strength On Strength, As JMU D Meets Trey Lance

Ron'Dell Carter Has Arrived

FRISCO, Texas -- Circumstances leading to an interception are unavoidable, even for the best quarterbacks. A receiver runs an incorrect route, a pass ricochets off someone’s fingertips and a defender is in the right spot at the right time, even just a simple bad read out of the hundreds made in the course of a season.