University of Maine coach Jack Cosgrove knows his teams needs to get its second-half troubles turned around, and soon, or else it will be a long second half of the season.

During their three-game losing streak, the Black Bears (2-3, 1-1 CAA) have had a hard time finding their end zone and keeping the opposition from beating a well-worn path to its own. Albany, Syracuse and Delaware outscored Maine, 61-10, in the second half, including 13-3 in a 27-17 loss to Delaware last week.

“We’re not performing right now at the end of the game the way we need to,” Cosgrove said. “You can point to experience as a reason, but it also is something that needs to be addressed. If we’re going to be successful and win football games, we’ve got to be better when it’s crunch time.”

Maine travels to Hofstra on Saturday (1 p.m., CSNE) for its fourth road game in the last five weeks. While penalties and turnovers hindered the offense in the Albany and Syracuse losses, Maine couldn’t sustain drives last week because of an inability to convert on third down (3-for-11).

“We’d been pretty damned good on third down until last Saturday. That was really the statistic of the game,” Cosgrove said. “They were five-for-seven in the second half and they were the ones that got the points.”

Cosgrove may be looking for more balance from his offense this week. Sophomore QB Warren Smith threw for 258 yards and two touchdowns and senior wide receiver Landis Williams had his second straight 100-yard game, but the Bears ran the ball a season-low 24 times for 80 yards.

Defensively, the Black Bears had one of their poorest showings of the season, yielding 512 total yards to the Blue Hens. They were playing without linebackers Mark Masterson (ankle) and Levi Ervin (concussion) of Lisbon Falls. One bright spot was sophomore linebacker Donte Dennis, who was in on 23 tackles (nine unassisted), including 2.5 for a loss and one sack.

“There were signs from last year that we felt showed he could really grow into a very good linebacker in this league. That process is on its way,” Cosgrove said. “I’d never seen anybody with that many tackles before.”

Dennis may have to be omnipresent again this week as the defense will be even more banged up. Not only are Masterson and Ervin expected to sit out another week, but defensive linemen Kris Enslen (season-ending knee surgery) and Spencer Wood (broken hand) and junior cornerback Dominic Cusano (concussion) are also out.

The undermanned defense will be facing a Hofstra offense that uses a platoon at quarterback similar to the one Maine used earlier this season with Smith and Mike Brusko. Senior Cory Christopher and sophomore Steve Probst combined for three touchdowns (two passing) last week.

“Christopher’s getting most of the snaps but Probst comes into the game, and they’ll do it in mid-series,” Cosgrove said. “It’s not like they’re running two different offenses. It’s something where you’ve got to defend one offense but two different styles of play.”

The Pride’s defense is led by junior defensive end Deron Mayo, who was named the CAA’s Defensive Player of the Week after posting nine tackles (six solo) and a sack in last week’s 24-17 upset victory over No. 7 James Madison.

“They’re going to have a ton of confidence off of that win,” Cosgrove said.


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