ORONO, Maine – Sophomore Paul Canevari (Warwick, N.Y.) rushed for 96 and two touchdowns to help the Bryant University football team jump out to a 16-7 lead but the University of Maine scored 28-straight points to hand the Bulldogs a 35-22 defeat on Saturday afternoon at Alfond Stadium.
The Bulldogs (2-1) dominated a majority of the first half before the Black Bears (3-0) started a string of 28-straight points with two scores in the final three minutes of the first half.
A year after being outmatched by Maine at home, Bryant more than held it's own on Saturday, outgaining the Black Bears, 460-444. Canevari's 96 yards led a trio of running backs that amassed over 50 yards rushing on the afternoon, with juniors Michael Perry (Dunmore, Pa.) and Ricardo McCray (Middletown, R.I.) put up 66 and 57, respectively.
After watching the Black Bears march 68 yards in seven plays on their first drive to take a 7-0 lead, the Black and Gold dominated the first half. Bryant immediately responded with a 10-play, 70-yard drive to tie the game on its next possession. Senior Jordan Harris (Lincoln University, Pa.) made a leaping grab along the sideline to put the Black and Gold at the Maine seven and two plays later Canevari made two men miss on his way to pay dirt.
The Bulldogs followed by forcing a three-and-out from Maine and proceeded to drive 83 yards in just five plays to take their first lead. A 19-yard completion to Perry on a third-and-four extended the drive and two plays later Canevari followed the lead block of his fullback and exploded down the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown run.
Bryant would extend its lead by two at the beginning of the second quarter with another outstanding special teams play. With Maine kicker Jeffrey Ondish punting from his endzone, McCray broke through the line and blocked the punt out of the back of the endzone for a safety and a 16-7 Bryant lead. It was his second blocked punt of the year and the fourth in the last two weeks for the Black and Gold.
The Black and Gold got the ball back because of the safety and nearly extended its lead just two plays in. Senior Mike Westerhaus (Farmingville, N.Y.) found a wide open Jose Depadua (Hagerstown, Md.) down the middle but the football slipped through his fingers. The Bulldogs then pushed the ball inside the Maine 40 on back-to-back drives but not convert on three crucial passes.
Maine took advantage late in the quarter with a burst of energy. After taking over with 3:11 remaining in the second quarter, the Black Bears needed just two plays to cut into the deficit as Damarr Aultmann hauled in a 51-yard touchdown reception. Two plays later Troy Eastman intercepted a pass at midfield and brought it to the Bryant 28. Marcus Wasilewski's 16-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Johnson five plays later gave Maine a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
The Black Bears pushed their lead to 19 with touchdowns on two of their first three second-half possessions. Wasilewski scampered 34 yards for a first down and then found his tight end Justin Perillo in the corner of the endzone to make it 28-16. Wasilewski's nine-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Dunn capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive and gave the Black Bears a 35-16 lead as time expired in the third quarter.
Bryant pulled within two scores with a late score. Junior Jeff Covitz (Reading, Mass.) recovered a Maine fumble at the Bryant 22 with 3:42 remaining and the Bulldogs drove 78 yards in six plays to make it 35-22. Westerhaus connected with Harris for gains of 12 and 13 before finding the All-American wideout wide open down the middle of the field for a 58-yard touchdown.
On the afternoon, Harris finished with nine catches for 182 yards and his first touchdown of the year. He also became the first player in school history and just the second in Northeast Conference history to eclipse 3,000 career receiving yards. He now has 3,082 receiving yards in his career. Freshman linebacker Marquise Watson (Hillside, N.J.) led the Bryant defense with a season-high 10 tackles. In addition to his 66 yards on the ground, Perry added a 19-yard reception and 99 kick return yards.
The Bulldogs will have next Saturday off before returning to action on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Wagner. The game will be aired live on ESPN3.com.