Minutemen fall to Black Bears, Woodward takes over at QB in second half
A change of quarterback at halftime couldn’t stop the turnovers or overcome the deficit as the Massachusetts football team fell, 19-9, Saturday at Maine.
Scott Woodward replaced Kyle Havens at the start of the second half after Havens threw an interception – his 14th of the season – as well as lost a fumble and injured his ankle in the first half. Woodward threw three interceptions of his own and pitched a ball to Jon Hernandez that was fumbled.
It was unclear if Woodward replaced Havens due to the starter’s performance, as Woodward did last week against Richmond, or if it was because of Havens ankle injury, but UMass coach Kevin Morris seemed to hint after the game that it was due more to Havens performance.
“We had a couple of turnovers so we looked to move on in a new direction,” Morris said.
The Black Bears (4-4, 3-2 Colonial Athletic Association) scored 10 of their 19 points off of UMass turnovers, something that has hurt the Minutemen (4-4, 2-3 CAA) in the past two weeks against Richmond and Maine. Both games that were on the road where UMass is 0-4 this season, the Minutemen have had 13 total turnovers – 10 interceptions and three fumbles.
Both UMass and Maine were able to put together lengthy drives on their first possessions of the game, but only the Black Bears came away with points. The Minutemen received the ball to start the game and put together a 12-play, 74-yard drive that brought them to Maine’s 7-yard line before Armando Cuko missed a 24-yard field goal wide right.
Maine’s Brandon McLaughlin sacked Havens on the drive, forcing Havens to miss the rest of the drive with a right ankle injury. Woodward came in to replace Havens completing a 34-yard screen pass to Hernandez and throwing another incomplete pass intended for Joe Sanford on the drive. Havens returned on the next drive for UMass offense before being replaced at halftime. The Black Bears had an equally impressive drive on their first offensive drive of the game, but came away with a 3-0 lead after a 25-yard field goal by Jordan Waxman. The drive ate up eight minutes of the first quarter as the Maine offense drove 72 yards in 14 plays.
Hernandez (14 rushes for 39 yards and one touchdown) gave UMass the lead halfway through the second quarter on a 1-yard run to end an 11-play, 77-yard drive, but Maine took the lead back after a Havens interception by Donte Dennis, his first of two picks in the game.
Quarterback Warren Smith found Terrell Jones with one minute, four seconds left in the first half on a fade route in the endzone a few plays later to put Maine back on top going into the locker room, 10-7.
Despite Woodward returning under center for the second half, UMass’ offense still struggled against Maine’s defense, turning the ball over four times in the second half for a total of six in the game. Early in the third quarter, Hernandez dropped a pitch from Woodward and the ball was recovered by the Black Bears on UMass 23-yard line. The fumble would lead to a 32-yard field goal and a 13-10 lead by Maine.
Smith rushed into the endzone from 5-yards out to extend the lead, but not by as much as the Black Bears wanted too. Maine attempted a two-point conversion to make the lead 14 and it a two-touchdown game, but instead Smith threw across his body and was intercepted by Ke’Mon Bailey who returned the ball the length of the field to give UMass the two points instead.
Woodward attempted to bring the Minutemen back, but threw two late interceptions to give the game to the Blackbears. Woodward was 14-of-27 for 134 yards in the game and Havens finished the first half going 7-of-12 for 99 yards.
Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at email@example.com.