ORONO — It was a record-setting day for the University of Maine offense Saturday afternoon and the Black Bears astounding season goes on.

Chris Ferguson threw a school-record five touchdowns and Ramon Jefferson rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns as Maine overwhelmed Jacksonville State University 55-27 in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs at Alfond Stadium.

It was the most points ever scored by the Black Bears in a playoff game and put Maine into the FCS quarterfinals next weekend against the winner of the Weber State-Southeast Missouri game, with the time and site to be determined.

Maine is now 9-3 while the Gamecocks finished 9-4.

Earnest Edwards also scored three touchdowns – all in the first half – to add to the offensive onslaught.

Maine’s defense was also a huge factor, four times stopping JSU on fourth-down plays – twice within the 5-yard line. The Black Bears allowed just 87 rushing yards against the Gamecocks, who averaged over 200 rushing yards a game coming in.

The Black Bears sacked Zerrick Cooper four times, twice forcing fumbles that led to Maine touchdowns, and intercepted him once.

Ferguson, who missed parts of the last two regular-season games with a right shoulder injury, completed 14 of 26 for159 yards. His touchdown passes were of 4 yards (Jaquan Blair), 41 yards (Edwards), 4 yards (Edwards), 20 yards (Micah Wright) and 3 yards (Drew Belcher). He was sacked only once.

Maine led 42-14 at the end of a wild first half that saw Ferguson set a school record with four touchdown passes and Edwards score three touchdowns.

The Black Bears took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter on three Ferguson touchdown passes. The first went to Jaquan Blair for 4 yards, one play after Maine’s Jamehl Wiley recovered a Cooper fumble at the 4. Then Ferguson found Edwards for a 41-yard touchdown pass and later a 4-yard scoring pass.

The Gamecocks showed how potent their offense can be, scoring two touchdowns in lightning-quick fashion – a 36-yard pass from Cooper to Jamari Hester and a 70-yard pass from Cooper to Hester – to pull within 21-14.

But Maine responded after the second touchdown with a three-play scoring drive capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ferguson to Micah Wright. That was set up by a 42-yard run by Ramon Jefferson.

Maine’s defense struck again as Sterling Sheffield recovered a Cooper fumble at the JSU 15. Two plays later, Edwards scored from the 1 – a long roundabout run in which he started left then reversed his field and scored to the right.

Jefferson capped the first-half scoring with a 24-yard run to the right, keyed by downfield blocks by Drew Belcher and Wright.

Maine’s Ramon Jefferson rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns as Maine beat Jacksonville State in the second round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday in Orono. (Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald)


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