April 23, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Renowned rabbi discusses the role of religion in American policy -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UMass baseball haunted by missed opportunities in 8-5 loss -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

‘Transcendence’ a fumbling cautionary tale -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Freedom of speech for campus employees -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

‘Veep’ continues to be one of the smartest comedies around -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

‘Noah’ a sinking ship -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Letter: A response to ‘There is nothing to debate about global warming’ -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Push for punishment equality -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UMass baseball lacks aggressiveness, misses opportunities in loss -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Police Log Friday, April 18 – Sunday, April 20, 2014 -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

UMass student spends spring break studying sustainability abroad -

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014: A day to remember -

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UMass baseball falls short in second straight Beanpot final -

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fashion faux-pas to fend off at music festivals -

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The meaning of Easter -

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Is Beyoncé a ‘fashion queen’ or just The Queen? -

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Protect Our Breasts holds Earth Day Yogathon -

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UMass holds annual Native American Powwow -

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Israel a hub for diversity -

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UMass rowing earns five first place finishes on Friday, two on Saturday in weekend action -

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Opportunistic Minutemen capitalize en route to victory

FOXBORO — When the pass left A.J. Doyle’s right hand and spiraled across the middle of the field, disaster lurked.

Doyle’s pass from the shotgun to Rob Blanchflower looked like a microcosm of the Massachusetts football team’s season, a potential drive-killing throw which shouldn’t be made in a game ripe for the picking.

Photo courtesy Andy Heller/Maroon Musket

Only it wasn’t.

“I wanted it back right away,” Doyle responded when asked about his 47-yard touchdown pass to Blanchflower in the third quarter, which proved to be the game-winning score in UMass’ first victory of the season on Saturday, a 17-10 win over Miami (Ohio) at Gillette Stadium.

“All of a sudden I see (Blanchflower) catch it and running down the field with no one on him and I was just ecstatic.”

What transpired most likely won’t ever be replicated. Doyle’s pass into double coverage ricocheted off Redhawks defender Dayonne Nunley’s outstretched arm and carelessly popped directly up into the air. The ball, suspended in mid-air for what felt like three hours instead of three seconds, came back down. Another Miami defender was a split-second late. Blanchflower was still standing there.

“I think I just gotta thank the man upstairs for that one, it landed right in my bread basket,” Blanchflower said. “I think it was more luck than skill, but luckily I was able to track it.”

It’s undoubtedly been a trying season for a Minuteman football team that’s seen lackluster results on the field and controversy off it.

“I’m just so happy for the team and the University and all our loyal fans who have been here with us for the last few years where we’ve been going up and down,” Blanchflower said.

Blanchflower’s catch-and-run touchdown was one of the first notable bounces which went in the direction of UMass, something coach Charley Molnar acknowledged after the game.

“We need a lot more bounces over the next several games to begin to level things out,” Molnar said. “But I know this: if you play hard and you believe, good things will happen for a football team.”

Those good things came in fortuitous ways for the Minutemen on Saturday.

After starting safety Antoine Tharpe was ejected for targeting a defenseless receiver with 4:59 left in the second quarter, Khary Bailey-Smith took his place. Bailey-Smith promptly intercepted a pass on the same drive, leaping to snare an underthrown pass with his right hand in his own end zone.

Bailey-Smith, who made 10 tackles in the game, recorded his second interception in the fourth quarter, reeling in a timely deflection and returning it 25 yards to the Miami 25-yard line. The play set up an eventual Blake Lucas field goal to push the UMass lead to 17-10.

“It was just well coached,” Bailey-Smith said after the game. “Coach called the right play, I was in the right spot and the ball just happened to come my way.”

Those types of beneficial bounces coupled with sustained pressure defensively allowed UMass to hang around despite a shaky start.
The first time the Minutemen touched the ball – on a Trey Dudley-Giles punt return – a penalty flag negated a 77-yard touchdown run back. On UMass’ first drive into the red zone, Doyle threw an interception at the 1-yard line. The Minutemen trailed 10-7 at one point in the third quarter, and the offense missed several chances to put the game away late.

But UMass, led by Bailey-Smith, held on defensively and bailed out the offense en route to its first victory ever at Gillette Stadium. For a young team with a long way to go, Saturday’s victory offered yet another building block as the Minutemen look to sustain success.

For one day at least, UMass avoided disaster. And it finally got a few bounces along the way.

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at mchiarel@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.

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