UMaine quarterback Joe Fagnano completed 21 of 35 passes for 235 yards and an interception in the Black Bears’ 44-17 loss to Villanova on Saturday in Orono. Ronald Gillis photo

ORONO — Sometimes, especially in football, statistics don’t tell the whole story of the game.

And that was abundantly true in Maine’s 44-17 loss to 16th-ranked Villanova on Saturday afternoon at Alfond Stadium.

Villanova outgained the Black Bears by just four yards, 428-424. Statistically, Maine quarterback Joe Fagnano had another nice game, completing 21 of 35 passes for 235 yards.

But actually, the game was never close. Villanova scored just 1:47 into the game on a 44-yard run by Justin Covington and led 24-3 at the half and 38-3 entering the fourth quarter. The Wildcats made every big play, both offensively and defensively, to turn this game into a rout.

“I just think we didn’t play very in sync for a good chunk of the game,” said Maine Coach Nick Charlton. “I was just looking at the stats and these stats don’t tell the story of that game at all. They actually they don’t tell it at all. When you look at their execution versus ours … I don’t think we played very well defensively, and then offensively we were too kind of herky-jerky with some things. I just said to the guys, that’s a very good team we just played, but we shouldn’t have been down like that. That deficit, credit to them, but a lot of it was self-created.

“We just didn’t do our jobs; that’s why the the score ended up being inflated. We didn’t play to our standards.”

Maine dropped to 2-2, having a two-game winning streak snapped, while Villanova improved to 2-1. With the FCS playoffs reduced to just 16 teams this spring and only six at-large berths available, it’s unlikely the Black Bears’ season will continue beyond their final two games against Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Charlton credited Villanova’s zone defense with forcing Maine out of its typical attack. The Black Bears like to take shots deep early and often, especially to Andre Miller. But once in the lead, the Wildcats’ zone forced Maine to run more, and Fagnano had to look for shorter pass routes. Miller caught just two passes for 39 yards.

The Black Bears did rushed for 161 yards, led by freshman Freddie Brock with 88, and may have found a new weapon for Fagnano in Zavier Scott, who caught eight passes (many on shovel passes) for 102 yards. Scott, a transfer from UConn, missed the early part of the season because of an injury.

The Black Bears were down 17-3 midway through the second quarter after a beautifully thrown 13-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Smith to Rayjoun Pringle. Then Maine put together a nice drive that ended at the Wildcats 34 when Brock fumbled.

Later in the second, Maine faced third-and-2 at its 40, but Brock gained just 1 yard. Charlton called a fake punt, but then checked out of it because of the look Villanova’s return team presented. The Wildcats got the ball at the 21 with 1:27 remaining and quickly drove down the field, aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty, and added to their lead with a 1-yard touchdown run by Covington.

Maine got the ball first in the third quarter and punted, and Villanova drove in for another 1-yard touchdown plunge by Covington. Three plays later, K-Shawn Schulters intercepted Fagnano and returned it 48 yards to the Maine 1. Covington scored his fourth touchdown, and suddenly it was 38-3.

“That’s a talented team,” said Charlton. “We have some talent, too. But (Villanova) was the better team today. They outplayed us, outcoached us. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. We will watch the film and see how close we are and it will be frustrating.”

Maine linebacker Deshawn Stevens said Villanova simply kept making plays.

“We had a good game plan,” he said. “But we lost some one-on-one matchups and we didn’t put enough pressure on the quarterback. We were close, but not close enough. Those are things we’ve got to continue to build on and get better.”

NOTES: Freshman Austin Ambush made his first start at safety and finished with six tackles.  … Freshman quarterback Derek Robinson, who played at Bridgton Academy, saw the first action of his career when he replaced Fagnano with 8:24 left in the game. … Montigo Moss, a freshman wide receiver and son of Hall of Famer Randy Moss, made his first college catch, a 13-yarder in the fourth quarter.

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