A Milestone Weekend

It was a milestone weekend for the University of Maine football team, which opened its season Saturday playing the program’s 1,000th official game.  To celebrate the Black Bears’ milestone, UMaine announced the results of a fan poll of the top 10 moments in program history. The No. 1 moment was announced during the Sept. 6 airing of UMaine head coach Jack Cosrove’s Coach Cos Radio Show.

UMaine lost to Bowl Championship Subdivision and Atlantic Coast Conference member Boston College 34-3 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The Black Bears will travel to Bryant University this Saturday for their second game of the season.

The top 10 moments in UMaine football history are:

10. The Bat Ball Play vs. UNH, 1978 – Maine, being a heavy underdog, trailed in the game as the Black Bears set up for a field goal, but quarterback Tony Trafton took the snap and flipped it behind him to kicker Mike Hodgson, who batted the ball like a volleyball into the end zone where Dave Higgins fell on it for a touchdown. The game ended in a tie, 7-7. The play created a lot of controversy and was ruled illegal shortly thereafter.

9. The 1951 Team – The Black Bears of 1951 produced the program’s first undefeated season, going 6-0-1 and 3-0-1 in Yankee Conference play to win the title. The team recorded four shutouts and had an average margin of victory of 22 points.

8. 1961 win at UConn and undefeated season – With an undefeated season on the line, and clinging to a 2-0 lead over UConn in the waning seconds, the Black Bears block a Husky field goal to preserve the win. The Black Bears go 8-0-1 and a perfect 5-0 in Yankee Conference play to win the title.

7. The 1998 Alfond Stadium and Morse Field dedication and the continued support from the Alfond and Morse Families – on Sept. 12, 1998, as a crowd of 9,244 fans witnessed the Black Bears down border-rival New Hampshire by a score of 52-28, as the facility opened in grand fashion. The Alfond and Morse families have continued to support Black Bear football and have contributed greatly to the team’s success.

6. 2010 Brice-Cowell Musket win in overtime vs. UNH – With the game tied 13-13 late in the fourth quarter, Maine blocks a Wildcat field goal in the waning seconds to force game into overtime. In the extra session, Jerron McMillian intercepts a pass to give the Black Bears possession. On the ensuing Black Bear possession, Maine kicker Brian Harvey nails a 37-yard field goal for the win, the Black Bears’ first in seven years.

5. Marcus Williams’ 41-yard TD run in 2002 Playoffs – Trailing 13-7 in the fourth quarter at powerhouse Appalachian St. in the 2002 NCAA playoffs, Black Bear great Marcus Williams breaks off for a 41-yard TD run, giving Maine a 14-13 lead that they would not relinquish.

4. Maine comes back at Youngstown State to win 27-22 en route to the 1965 Tangerine Bowl – Down 22-7 midway through the fourth quarter against Youngstown State, Maine rallies for three touchdowns in the final 8:10 to win 27-22 as the Black Bears win the Yankee Conference and advance to the Tangerine Bowl, the first and only bowl game in program history.

3. The ‘Helicopter’ vs. JMU in 2011 – After scoring a Warren Smith to Justin Perillo touchdown in overtime to get within 24-23 against the Dukes, Maine lines up in a special formation. Chris Treister takes the snap, dives towards the end zone, gets hit by two James Madison defenders as he spins around like a helicopter, landing in the end zone to give Maine a 25-24 win at No. 6 James Madison. The play was No. 2 on ESPN’s Top-10 List as well as a finalist for the GEICO College Football Play of the Year. The Black Bears catapult the win into a NCAA Final Eight appearance and No. 8 final national ranking.

2. Royston English vs. McNeese St. in 2001 – Black Bear great Royston English runs for 144 yards and a score as the Black Bears win an NCAA playoff game for the first time with a 14-10 win at perennial FCS powerhouse McNeese State in 2001.

1. Ron Whitcomb to Kevin McMahon 15-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as Maine defeated Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State in 2004 — The win by the Black Bears over Mississippi State made national headlines and stands as the Black Bears’ only win over a team from the FBS.