ORONO, ME- Maine kept Norfolk State off the scoreboard on three Spartan drives which began in Maine territory as the No. 25 Black Bears held off NSU 10-6 in a defensive struggle on Saturday night at Alfond Stadium.
The Spartans led 6-0 after the first quarter thanks to a pair of Cameron Marouf field goals, but Maine scored the game's final 10 points and held NSU to 100 yards of total offense to come away with the win.
After holding the Black Bears three-and-out on the first drive of the game, NSU drove 33 yards in 12 plays for the game's first score, a career-long 46-yard field goal from Marouf. Spartan linebacker Lynden Trail recovered a fumble by Maine quarterback Dan Collins on the third play of the Black Bears' next possession, and three plays later, Marouf connected from 38 yards out for a 6-0 NSU lead.
Maine's offense picked up the pace in the second quarter. The Black Bears claimed the lead on a 33-yard TD pass from Collins to Damarr Alutman with 6:29 left in the second quarter, capping a seven-play, 81-yard drive.
NSU appeared to get the first break of the third quarter. After the Spartans were held three-and-out to start the period, Maine's Sherrod Baltimore fumbled the ensuing punt and NSU's D'Metrius Williams recovered at the Maine 33. But on 4th-and-1 from the Black Bears' 24, quarterback Malik Stokes was stopped short of the first down.
Later in the quarter, Maine used a big defensive play to set up its next score. Trevor Bates batted a Stokes pass and made a leaping catch of the deflection at the NSU 21. Seven plays later, Sean Decloux kicked a 27-yard field goal to push the Black Bears' lead to 10-6 with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
NSU had four possessions in the fourth quarter, three beginning in Maine territory, but could not come away with any points. The first ended on a missed 38-yard field goal by Marouf early in the period. The Spartans forced a Maine punt on the next drive and again got the ball back and moved into Maine territory, but punted.
The Black Bears got the ball back at their own 11 with 3:19 left and NSU held three-and-out, forcing another punt. NSU got the ball back at the Maine 38 for its last possession of the game. An 8-yard pass from Terrance Ervin and Ervin's 8-yard scramble, combined with a Maine personal foul, moved the Spartans to the Maine 11 with less than two minutes remaining. Ervin threw incomplete on first down and completed a pass that lost 3 yards to William Penn on second down.
Ervin was sacked on third down, forcing a 4th-and-21 from the Maine 22. His last-gasp pass into the end zone for Tanner Fiano fell incomplete, allowing Maine to run out the clock.
The Spartans were held to 67 rushing yards and 33 through the air, tallying exactly 100 yards on 58 plays. The Black Bears didn't fare much better, totaling 98 rushing yards and 92 passing. Linebacker Lamar Neal led the NSU defense with 10 total tackles. Trail had eight, including four for loss, 1.5 sacks, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.