Maine’s Chris Ferguson fights for a first down against New Hampshire during the Black Bears’ season-opening win in August. (Portland Press Herald file photo)

Sophomore Chris Ferguson is expected to be at quarterback Saturday when the University of Maine takes on Elon with a chance to clinch the Colonial Athletic Association championship.

Ferguson suffered a right shoulder injury during the third quarter of last weekend’s game at Richmond — the second time this season that he injured his throwing shoulder. But unlike the first time, when Ferguson missed the next two starts, he shouldn’t miss any time.

He practiced both Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I’m feeling good,” Ferguson said. “I really wasn’t concerned. I had to come out of the game last week and they wanted to sit me out the rest of the game. But I know the staff here and what they can do, what they did for me in those three weeks earlier this season. I know this injury is not as serious.”

Ferguson originally injured his shoulder in the first quarter of the Sept. 22 game at Central Michigan. He missed the rest of that game and the next two, against Yale and Villanova. Maine went 1-2 without him.

Head coach Joe Harasymiak said the team is still being cautious with Ferguson this week. He is throwing less and taking more “mental reps.”

“He did a little more (Wednesday) than Tuesday,” Harasymiak said. “We’ll keep progressing him but we’re going to be smart. We’re not giving him too much in terms of throws.”

Harasymiak said he knew last Saturday when he saw Ferguson in the medical tent after he was injured that Ferguson would be all right.

“I could tell by his demeanor that (the injury) was different,” Harasymiak said. “He was much more positive.”

Ferguson had thrown for four touchdowns before being injured on a sack during Maine’s 28-9 win over Richmond.

Maine (7-3, 6-1 in the CAA) can clinch the CAA championship and the league’s automatic bye to the NCAA playoffs with a home win Saturday against Elon, which is ranked 14th and 12th in the two national FCS polls. Maine, ranked 16th and 19th, last won the CAA title in 2013. The Phoenix (6-3, 4-2) need a win to guarantee a playoff berth.

“There’s a lot on the line for both teams,” Ferguson said.

Maine could lose and still clinch the automatic bye through the CAA tiebreakers. But the Black Bears would rather win the title outright.

“We don’t want to share it,” senior tight end Drew Belcher said. “We want to be at the top of the standings by ourselves. That’s giving us motivation.”

filed under: