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November 15, 2017

UMass football dominated as Boston College rolls to a 30-7 victory

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

For the first 30 minutes of play, despite a significant difference in yardage and time of possession, the Massachusetts football team was still competitive with Boston College on Saturday.

Earlier this week in a radio interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub, coach Mark Whipple said he wanted his team to be in a close football game at halftime.

“We need to get into halftime in a football game,” Whipple said. “And then we can make some adjustments and play to win in the second half.

Whipple got his wish, but didn’t get the results he hoped for.

Although UMass only found itself trailing 6-0 heading into the locker room, Boston College dominated the game in almost every statistical output en route to a
30-7 victory over the Minutemen in front of 30,479 at Gillette Stadium.

“I thought we matched up well physically in the first half,” Whipple said. “Our defense was worn down. We just don’t have enough bodies right now.”

Boston College’s game plan was straightforward: run the football.

The Minutemen (0-1) allowed 338 yards on 61 carries and it certainly felt like much more than that.

“They did what they wanted to do and we couldn’t stop them,” Whipple said.

It was a combination of quarterback Tyler Murphy and running backs Myles Willis and Tyler Rouse piling up the yards for the Eagles, but it’s the offensive line that deserves the majority of the credit. Whether it was a read-option or counter, Boston College easily turned the corner and bounced big runs to the outside throughout the game.

Murphy finished with 118 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown for the Eagles. The dual-threat quarterback also went 17-for-24 with 173 passing yards and a touchdown for the game. It was Murphy’s ability to escape the pressure and move the chains that allowed Boston College to have possession for 42 minutes, 11 seconds as opposed to UMass’ 17:49.

The Eagles (1-0) picked up 30 first downs on the day (27 on run plays) to the Minutemen’s seven.

In his first career start, Blake Frohnapfel went 9-for-22 for 147 yards with a touchdown and interception. Frohnapfel was on his back after many throws as the Eagles; defensive front put constant pressure on the new quarterback.

Frohnapfel also struggled with his deep ball, but it wasn’t by much. UMass took plenty of shots down the field early in the game to open receivers, but Frohnapfel’s passes sailed just high of his targets.

“Those are throws where, against a team like (Boston College), you need to hit,” he said. “Throws that I need to make.”

Frohnapfel finally connected on the deep ball with 1:29 remaining in the third quarter, hitting Tajae Sharpe for a 77-yard touchdown pass for UMass’ first score of the year. It was the first 70-plus yard touchdown pass since current Minutemen quarterbacks coach Liam Coen did so on Oct. 25, 2008.

J.T. Blyden rushed for 43 yards on nine carries in his collegiate debut after Jamal Wilson left the game midway through the third quarter due to injury. Both Whipple and Frohnapfel were impressed with the 18-year old’s performance and expect his role on offense to grow substantially as the season progresses.

The Minutemen struggled to move the ball on the ground, however, picking up just 55 yards on 22 carries.

UMass’ best chance to pull ahead early came at the 2:20 mark in the second quarter after cornerback Randall Jette intercepted Murphy and returned it to the Eagles 19-yard line. Frohnapfel was called for intentional grounding on the next play, which resulted in the loss of down and a 15-yard penalty. After an incompletion and four-yard screen pass to Wilson, Blake Lucas missed a 44-yard field goal wide right and the Minutemen remained scoreless.

UMass’ next test will be a next Saturday against a Pac-12 team as Colorado visits Gillete.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at arcyr@umass.edu, and can be followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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