Maine quarterback Chris Ferguson (14) throws a pass in the first quarter against UMass at Fenway Park in Boston on Saturday.
BOSTON — Junior quarterback Andrew Ford threw four touchdown passes, three to Andy Isabella, to lead the University of Massachusetts to a 44-31 victory over the University of Maine on Saturday night before 12,794 at Fenway Park.
Ford threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter to lead the Minutemen to a 21-7 lead. Then he broke a third-quarter tie with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Isabella. The Massachusetts defense then got into it as Lee Moses returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown that would give the Minutemen a 37-24 lead going into the fourth.
The loss was Maine’s second in a row, dropping the Black Bears to 4-5 overall. Massachusetts improved to 3-7.
Ford completed 21 of 39 passes for 355 yards and the four touchdowns. Marquis Young rushed for 126 yards and scored a clinching 33-yard touchdown run with 1:57 remaining.
Josh Mack led Maine with 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Chris Ferguson threw for 232 yards but was only 16 for 41 with two interceptions.
The Black Bears were hurt by penalties (12 for 124 yards) and an inability to convert on third down. They were 1 for 13 on third down.
Down 37-24, Maine got back in it when Mack busted up the middle for a 37-yard touchdown run, deking Minuteman safety Tyler Hayes at the 25. Brandon Briggs PAT made it 37-31. The touchdown was set up by a 48-yard pass from Ferguson to tight end Drew Belcher.
The Minutemen regained control late in the third quarter. First Ford threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game – and third to Isabella – with 2:42 left in the quarter to give the Minutemen a 31-24 lead over the Black Bears. Then Lee Moses intercepted a Ferguson pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. Dakota Tarbox blocked the PAT, but UMass led 37-24 with 1:08 left in the third.
Maine tied it at 24 on the opening drive of the third quarter, going 80 yards in 11 plays. Mack rushed in from the 1 for the touchdown, then Ferguson passed to Belcher for the two-point conversion.
The first half ended with Massachusetts leading Maine 24-16 as Ford threw touchdowns of 33, 69 and 12 yards. He was 10 of 15 for 210 yards and the three touchdowns in the quarter, but Maine’s pass rush got to him for three sacks in the second to slow him down.
It was 24-7 after Logan Laurent kicked a 41-yard field goal with 10:20 left in the first half.
Then Maine scrapped back. Ferguson scored on a 9-yard broken play with 8:00 left in the first half. On second-and-3 from the Massachusetts 9, he saved a high snap but was unable to hand the ball off to Josh Mack. Instead, he followed Mack around right end for the score.
Then with 3:28 left in the second quarter, the Black Bears scored a safety to bring it within 24-16. Connor Walsh came from behind to trip up Ford, who was rolling to his left, for a sack and the safety.
Maine’s first score of the game came on a 95-yard kickoff return by Earnest Edwards, which tied the game at 7 just 13 seconds after the Minutemen had scored.