ORONO — The Brice-Cowell Musket’s visit to Maine was brief, just one year, after another heartbreakingly close loss in a season full of them for the University of Maine football team.

This time, after scoring one of the most unlikely touchdowns you’ll ever see in overtime, the Black Bears try for the game-winning 2-point conversion failed, giving the University of New Hampshire a 42-41 win Saturday in the annual rivalry game in front of 4,638 fans at Alfond Stadium, and sending the Brice-Cowell Musket – the prize for victory – back to the Granite State.

Maine ends the season at 2-9, with five losses by four or fewer points. UNH ends the regular season at 8-3, and waits for the Football Championship Subdivision playoff bracket to be announced on Sunday. UNH now leads the 110-year series with Maine, 57-45-8.

“Cardiac Cats, find a way to get it done at the end,” said Wildcats Coach Rick Santos, who went 4-0 against Maine as UNH’s quarterback from 2004-07. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Coach (Jordan) Stevens and his staff. Those guys battled. That’s not a 2-9 football team as far as we’re concerned. They flew around. They were intense.”

Maine trailed by 14 points three times, but UNH could never pull away from the Black Bears. Maine forced overtime by scoring a touchdown with 3:11 remaining to tie game at 35-35.

“I just love how our team, we always fight. No matter what’s going on, we’re going to fight. That’s something that really stuck out to me and really pushed me, too, throughout the game and the season,” said Maine’s Zavier Scott, who ran for 108 yards.


UNH had the ball first in overtime, and scored on Kyle Lepkowski’s 4-yard touchdown pass from Max Brosmer for a 42-35 lead. Then, facing fourth down and 16 from the 31, the Black Bears executed the play of the game.

First, Elijah Barnwell caught Joe Fagnano’s pass and quickly hitched and tossed the ball to Montigo Moss. Then, Moss tossed a lateral to freshman tight end Rohan Jones, who ran 19 yards for the score, which was upheld on video review.

“Those are ones you’ve just got to react to. When you have a guy pass it back, he just hauls it up into the air, you’ve just got to get over there. We were pretty close but (Jones) tiptoed in,” said Wildcats linebacker Bryce Shaw.

On the 2-point conversion try, Fagnano’s pass to Freddie Brock was just behind the receiver, and Brock was unable to make the catch, sending the Wildcats into celebration mode.

Stevens, Maine’s first-year head coach, said the decision to go for two if the Black Bears scored was made before the drive started. In the right flat, Scott was the primary receiver on the play, but with a strong rush coming, Fagnano had to attempt the quick throw to Brock, who was at the 1-yard line in the middle of the field.

“Putting the ball in Joe and Zavier’s hands for the game is the right move to make,” Stevens said.


Scott and Elijah Barnwell (143 yards) combined to run for 251 of Maine’s season-high 336 rushing yards. Fagnano added 71 yards on the ground, including an 11-yard touchdown run with 14:23 to play to tie the game at 28-28. Scott’s 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to cut UNH’s lead to 28-21 just 18 seconds after the Wildcats scored on Dylan Laube’s 48-yard run, the third of his three touchdowns.

Laube ran for 190 yards on 30 carries, scoring on runs of 3, 15 and 48 yards.

“I’ve got to thank the line. Every single day, we work together. You saw it as the game went on, more yards, more yards, more yards. I’d go for five yards and eventually get touched. Our line was kicking their (butts) all day,” Laube said.

UNH’s first two possessions resulted in long scoring drives, and it looked as if the Wildcats might run away with the game. With 6:50 left to play in the first quarter, Laube capped an 11-play, 88-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead. With 11:52 left in the second quarter, DJ Linkins caught a pass over the middle from Brosmer, shook off a would-be Maine tackler, and scored a 33-yard touchdown to give the Wildcats a 14-0 lead.

Maine answered with a 1-yard touchdown run from Barnwell, the first of his three touchdowns, with 3:21 left in the first half. The Wildcats quickly went 76 yards in three plays, taking a 21-7 lead on Laube’s 15-yard run. With six seconds left in the half, Barnwell’s second 1-yard touchdown run pulled the Black Bears to within a touchdown at the half, 21-14.

After Fagnano’s touchdown tied the game early in the fourth quarter, UNH regained the lead on Adam Deese’s 6-yard catch from Brosmer (247 yards passing). Maine responded with a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took 8:01 and ended with Barnwell’s 2-yard touchdown run with 3:11 left in regulation. The Black Bears converted two fourth-and-1 tries inside the Wildcats’ 35 to extend the drive.

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