Black Bears defense turns in solid performance

Sept. 4, 2005

LINCOLN, Neb. - Senior linebacker and co-captain Jermaine Walker (Teaneck, N.J.) totaled a game-high 14 tackles, as Maine's defense turned in a solid performance in Saturday night's tough 25-7 loss at Nebraska. The game was played before 77,469 fans at Memorial Stadium, the largest crowd to ever watch Maine play a football game.

In addition to the stops, Walker forced a fumble and broke up a pass, which led to an interception.

"I have to tell you the truth, I felt like we had a chance to win the game," Maine head coach Jack Cosgrove said. "We just didn't make it work."

Maine fell to 0-1 on the season, while Nebraska improved to 1-0. The Black Bears were searching for their second win in as many seasons over a Division I-A team, as Maine pulled off a 9-7 victory at Mississippi State last season.

The Black Bears defense forced five turnovers, including a pair as Nebraska marched inside the Maine five-yard line in the first half.

Early in the second quarter, the Huskers drove to the Maine five, but on a first-and-goal senior safety Joan Quezada (Union City, N.J.) met Nebraska running back Cory Ross at the line of scrimmage and knocked the ball out of the carrier's hands. Senior defensive end Kurt Bulwith (Bayonne, N.J.) pounced on the ball at the 11-yard line to end Nebraska's threat.

The Huskers had a first-and-goal from the Maine six on their next possession, but the Black Bears stood tall once again and limited Nebraska to a field goal and a 3-0 lead. Nebraska scored a touchdown on its next possession as Ross scored from one-yard out after Terrence Nunn returned a punt 62 yards to the Black Bears one-yard line.

Maine's defense stood tall in the closing seconds of the first half and prevented Nebraska from putting more points on the board. On a third-and-goal from the Maine one, Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor rolled out of the pocket and was being chased from behind by Walker. Taylor rushed a throw right before Walker could bring him down, but Black Bear defensive back Daren Stone (Lockport, N.Y.) stepped in front of the pass and made the interception.

In the third quarter, Nebraska's starting field position was at the Maine 47-yard line, but the Black Bears defense once again held firm and limited the Huskers to just a pair of field goals and a 15-0 lead after three periods.

Maine's offense got into the act early in the fourth quarter. Junior quarterback Ron Whitcomb (East Rochester, N.Y.), who was sacked 11 times on the night, regrouped and led the offense on a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, which was capped with a 52-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Kevin McMahan (Rochester, N.Y.). Whitcomb, who showed tremendous poise and composure the entire night despite the sacks, finished with 149 yards on 15-of-32 passing.

Maine forced a fumble on the first play from scrimmage on Nebraska's next possession and had the ball at its own 43-yard line. Ross broke into the open field, but was caught from behind and had the ball jarred loose. Defensive back Manauris Arias (Union City, N.J.) came up with the fumble recovery. However, the Black Bears could not convert and were forced to punt.

The defense forced Nebraska to punt on its next possession, but the Huskers defense came up big on the next play as Whitcomb was forced to throw a pass into the waiting arms of linebacker Bo Ruud, who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown and a 22-7 lead.

Nebraska would tack on a field goal to close out the scoring.

Sophomore linebacker John Wormuth (Childs, Pa.) registered nine tackles for Maine, while Stone added eight tackles to go along with his interception. Freshman linebacker Jovan Belcher (West Babylon, N.Y.) posted six tackles in his first collegiate game, including a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. The Black Bears held Nebraska to just 121 yards rushing.

Maine returns home next Saturday for its season opener at Alfond Stadium. The Black Bears will play host to William Penn at 6 p.m.