DURHAM, N.H. — The University of Maine and University of New Hampshire battled Thursday in a rare early-season football contest, and despite the new month and date of the game, and despite the common roster turnover, the Black Bears left the game in a familiar position: On the losing side of the scoreboard.

The UNH defense held tough in the final minutes and picked off Maine redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Ferguson in the waning seconds to secure a 24-23 win over the Black Bears to retain ownership of the Brice-Cowell musket, awarded each year to the winner of the rivalry game.

UNH junior quarterback Trevor Knight threw a pair of touchdown passes in the victory, which came in front of a home-opener record crowd of 15,854 at Wildcat Stadium.

The win for UNH is the eighth in a row over Maine.

Knight connected with junior Rory Donovan for an 11-yard touchdown with 13:41 left in the fourth quarter for the winning score. Morgan Ellman kicked the conversion to give UNH a 24-17 lead.

Knight completed 18 of his 29 passes for 149 yards and the two scores and had one interception.

The Black Bears answered with a Chris Ferguson to Jason Siminovich 4-yard scoring pass with 9:07 left in the game. But Kenny Doak’s conversion kick was wide to leave it at 24-23.

Sophomore safety Rick Ellison intercepted a Ferguson pass with 6:27 left in the fourth period and sophomore linebacker Quinlen Dean intercepted another with 25 seconds left to seal it.

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