Eagles prey on Pagel in game at BC
In his second career start at quarterback for the Massachusetts football team, redshirt sophomore Kellen Pagel threw two interceptions and fumbled once in UMass’ 45-17 defeat against Boston College on Saturday.
Pagel was serviceable in the Minutewomen’s first two games (2-0). In the season opener against Holy Cross, Pagel came in off the bench and threw for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-16 passing. In UMass’ home-opening win against Rhode Island, Pagel threw for 259 yards, one touchdown (two interceptions) and added a rushing touchdown.
But Pagel’s fairly smooth start ended abruptly Saturday, as the Boston College defense set the tone early with an interception on Pagel’s first pass from scrimmage.
“I didn’t lose any confidence at all,” said Pagel after the interception. “The safety made a good play on it. But I still understand where I need to put the ball and on that particular throw I didn’t do that.”
It didn’t get easier from there for Pagel as the Eagles’ defense consistently pressured him, contributing to his 49 percent completion percentage (18-of-37).
“They’re a big fast physical football team and they certainly are on defense,” said coach Kevin Morris. “Luke [Kuechly] in the middle accounts for just about everything. They’re very talented on the outside as well and they played a fine football game and we couldn’t get it rolling and we couldn’t get Kellen into a flow.”
The secondary was just as effective for BC, displaying good coverage on the Minutemen receivers throughout the contest.
BC quarterback Chase Rettig had a much easier time on Sunday, throwing for 196 yards and three touchdowns. He was 14-of-22 on pass attempts.
Although Rettig didn’t accumulate many yards, many of his completions came on key third down conversions. He also accounted for just one turnover compared to Pagel’s three.
“I think we had four turnovers to [BC’s] one and that certainly was the difference in the game, particularly with [two of our turnovers leading] to touchdowns,” said Morris.
Perhaps the worst turnover for UMass came when Pagel fumbled on the BC’s 4-yard line which led to a 96-yard defensive touchdown for the Eagles.
After BC took a 45-17, the Eagles just had to kill the clock to get their first win of the season.
“We knew today we were going to have to come out and execute and be mentally and physically sharp and, well, there were some times that we didn’t get that done,” said Morris.
UMass senior tailback Jonathan Hernandez, who ran wild in the Minutemen’s first two games, registered 80 yards rushing and a receiving touchdown. BC’s Andre Williams kept pace with Hernandez, running for 95 yards.
With the run game neutralized, the Minutemen needed a big game out of Pagel and his receivers. But Pagel consistently checked down to Hernandez, who finished with a team-high five receptions. Julian Talley, UMass’ top receiving threat, finished with three receptions for 37 yards.
With a full week of practice ahead and UMass’ quarterback situation still not completely settled, Morris and the other coaches will be evaluating Pagel and his main competition, redshirt Brandon Hill, who started the Minutemen’s season opener against Holy Cross.
Steve Levine can be reached at email@example.com.