The Massachusetts Pirates (6-3) used seven defensive stops, four quarterback sacks and six touchdown receptions by Bones Bagaunte to defeat the Maine Mammoths 52-37 in the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday night.
The Pirates, defense served notice to the Mammoths (1-6) that it would be a long evening as they turned Maine over on downs on its first three possessions. Massachusetts scored the only points of the first quarter as backup quarterback Darron Thomas came on in a short yardage situation to hit Bagaunte from two yards out. Ali Mourtada’s PAT gave the Pirates a 7-0 advantage.
In the second quarter the Mammoths Henry Nell attempted a 51 yard field goal which was blocked by linemen Bill Vavou and Cornelius Lewis. Bagaunte returned the miss 30 yards to the Maine ten yard line. Pirates starting QB Sean Brackett engineered a short three play drive with Bagaunte catching his second score of the night giving the Pirates a 13-0 lead with 8:31 to play in the half.
QB Jonathan Bane of Maine would answer with a six play, 32 yard drive with Bane scrambling the final seven yards for a touchdown to put the Mammoths down by six, but on the very next play from scrimmage Brackett went deep to Lamont Bryant and the Pirates were on top 20-7.
Maine kept its rhythm as Edgar Poe scored his first of three touchdowns on the night. Poe made a circus catch, hanging on to the ball while falling over the wall and with the point after, the Mammoths appeared to be back in the game with six seconds left in the half.
The ensuing kickoff to Bagaunte was returned 19 yards to midfield and with one second remaining, Mourtada connected on a 42 yard field goal and the Pirates led 23-14 at halftime. The Mammoths never recovered.
In the second half the Pirates scored on their first four possessions while putting pressure on Bane. Brackett hooked up with Mardy Gilyard on a four yard TD pass to start the third quarter. On the next series linebacker Nick Haag sacked Bane on first and ten at midfield. On second down, Vavau forced Bane to fumble as he and J.D. Griggs converged for a sack. The ball was recovered by Pasqual Vacchio who returned it 13 yards to the seven. Two plays later Bagaunte pulled in his fourth score of the night on a six yard strike from Brackett. Maine’s next set of plays ended with the Pirates John Hardy-Tuliau breaking up a pass on fourth and six from the 12. That led to Bagaunte pulling in a 25 yard pass for six more, putting the Pirates up 42-14.
The Mammoths did find the end zone on their best drive of the night as Bane hit Maurice Dupree and Robert Brown Jr. with consecutive 15 yard passes and then a five yard toss to Poe to complete the drive for a touchdown. The extra point however was blocked by Vavau and the quarter ended with the Pirates on top, 42-20.
Nell added a “Duce” to start the final set but the Pirates marched down the field with Mourtada adding his second field goal of the night, this one from 48 yards, to run the lead to 45-22. Poe, who finished as Maine’s leading receiver with seven catches for 60 yards and three scores, found the end zone on a short four yard TD pass and a second “Duce” by Nell closed the score to 45-31 with 6:08 to play.
The Mammoths would not quit as Keiron Jones intercepted Brackett and on the next play Bane connected with Robert Brown Jr. with a 34 yard TD pass to put Maine down by eight. Still the night belonged to Bagaunte and the Pirates. On the next play from scrimmage, Bagaunte would score his sixth TD of the game on a 19 yard pass from Brackett to secure the 52-37 victory.
Griggs, Haag, Vavau and Darryl Render each had sacks for the victors. Bane still managed 193 yards passing going 17 of 26 with four TD passes without an interception. Brackett was 14 of 26 for 148 yards, one pick and seven scores. Thomas’ one and only toss was a two yard TD pass. Bagaunte led the Pirates receivers with 10 receptions for 84 yards and six touchdowns.
The victory gives the Pirates its first ever series sweep in franchise history, winning the three games by an average score of 49 to 37. The win also ends the Pirates short two game losing streak while the Mammoths now have suffered losses in four consecutive games.
The Pirates now have a bye week before returning home to the DCU Center in Worcester to face the Columbus Lions on June 16 at 7 pm.
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