ORONO — Last week, Jordan Stevens got his first win as the University of Maine head football coach. Now, Stevens has his first winning streak.

The Black Bears were opportunistic Saturday afternoon, converting three Monmouth turnovers into touchdowns. Maine slowed the Hawks’ strong running attack, holding Monmouth to 112 yards – less than half its average. It all added up to a 38-28 win in front of 6,241 Homecoming Day fans at Alfond Stadium.

It was the sixth straight homecoming win for the Black Bears, who improved to 2-4 overall, 2-1 in Colonial Athletic Association play. Monmouth dropped to 4-3, 2-2 in the CAA.

“I think the past two weeks have been our best two weeks of practice, and that’s shown in the games,” Stevens said.

Maine controlled play with a balanced offense, gaining 181 yards through the air and 174 on the ground.

Ahead 21-14 at the half, the Black Bears scored a pair of touchdowns a minute apart early in the third quarter to take control.


“I thought they had the upper hand throughout the game, and probably dominated us from start to finish,” Monmouth Coach Kevin Callahan said.

Elijah Barnwell scored on a 1-yard run less than 90 seconds into the second half, one play after Kobay White caught a 77-yard pass from Joe Fagnano. With six catches for 115 yards, it was the best game yet for White, a Boston College transfer.

“It’s a play we rep pretty often. I didn’t know it was going to get called, to be honest, because at halftime we were talking about how we have to keep establishing the run,” White said of his long catch, which came on Maine’s second play of the third quarter.

After Maine’s Latrell Couchman recovered a Monmouth fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the 23, the Black Bears scored again when Montigo Moss caught a 14-yard pass from Fagnano, falling into the pylon for the score and a 35-14 lead.

Maine’s defensive play of the game came in the final minute=. Down 35-20, Monmouth had fourth-and-inches at the Maine 5 and called a play that often works in those situations. Running back Owen Wright took the snap in wildcat formation, but he was stopped for no gain by Josh Levin and Adrian Otero as he tried to go over the left side.

“We went over it the whole week. We knew they run wildcat on fourth-and-1, bring (Wright) in. Josh Levin pulled it back, he was in there, and I went over the top,” Otero said.


Monmouth went into the game averaging 39.5 points to lead the conference, and after scoring quickly on the first drive, the Hawks looked well on their way to reaching that average. Monmouth needed just seven plays to go 85 yards, scoring when Dre Tucker caught a 17-yard pass from Tony Muskett barely three minutes into the game.

After forcing three turnovers in last week’s 31-24 win at Hampton, Maine capitalized on two turnovers in the first half Saturday. First, after Shakur Smalls recovered a Monmouth fumble at the Hawks 22, Shawn Bowman caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Joe Fagnano to tie the game with 4:07 left in the first quarter.

Late in the second quarter, with Maine ahead 14-7, Kahzir “Buggs” Brown intercepted Muskett and went 39 yards untouched for a touchdown.

“(Forcing turnovers is) something we have to do. It’s not something we decide to do. We have to do it. Take away a team’s points, and put points on the board, that leads to big wins like this,” Brown said.

The Hawks answered with a 30-second scoring drive, capped by Dymere Miller’s 30-yard catch from Muskett.

Monmouth running back Jaden Shirden entered the game leading the Football Championship Subdivision with 932 yards rushing, and averaging close to 10 yards per carry. Maine bottled him up throughout, holding him to 81 yards on 18 carries.


Callahan called Maine’s defensive front one of the better ones Monmouth has faced.

Throughout the week, tackling and limiting Monmouth’s yards after contact was a focus of Maine’s defense during practices. With a 21-point lead in the third quarter, the Black Bears forced Monmouth to go to the air.

“We were able to make them a little bit more one-dimensional,” Stevens said. “We tackled on Tuesday, we tackled on Wednesday. Coming into the game, we knew we were going to have to tackle.”

Freddie Brock gained 68 yards on 10 carries for Maine, including a 33-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter that gave the Black Bears the lead for good, 14-7.

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