UMaine football holds off Weber State to reach FCS semifinals for first time

OGDEN, Utah — The University of Maine football team earned a berth in the national semifinals for the first time in program history after a tense 23-18 victory at Weber State University on Friday night.

The Black Bears (10-3) came up with four second-half interceptions after building an 11-point lead early in the third quarter to advance to a Football Championship Subdivision semifinal next weekend.

Ramon Jefferson helped to secure the Maine victory with a 45-yard touchdown run with 2:56 to go, and Kenny Doak clinched it with a 46-yard field goal with 1:34 remaining.

The Maine defense – led by defensive end Kayon Whitaker and linebackers Deshawn Stevens and Sterling Sheffield – shut down the Wildcats’ running game and put repeated pressure on quarterback Jake Constantine. Maine’s Jeffery DeVaughn had two interceptions.

Holding a 7-3 lead at halftime, Maine scored just three plays into the third quarter when Chris Ferguson threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to Earnest Edwards. Doak’s PAT gave the Black Bears a 14-3 lead with 13:32 to go in the third.

Then the game almost turned on a controversial ruling late in the quarter.
Down by eight points and facing a fourth-and-12 from the Maine 33, the Wildcats’ Constantine heaved a pass into a scrum of players that was intercepted by DeVaughn in the end zone. But after a review, Devon Cooley was awarded a touchdown for Weber State (10-3).

The Black Bears struggled to get anything going offensively before putting together a nine-play, 47-yard drive late in the second quarter. Ferguson capped the drive with a 9-yard pass to Jaquan Blair, who lunged over the goal line for the touchdown. Doak’s PAT gave Maine a 7-3 lead with 2:05 left in the half.