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UMass football can’t come through offensively in 17-7 loss to Old Dominion

(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

“No Such Thing as a Broken Heart” is a hit-single from the country band Old Dominion.

Saturday afternoon, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Massachusetts football fan that was not heartbroken after its latest loss to Old Dominion University.

UMass (0-3) fell 17-7 to ODU at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in a low-scoring affair.

“The defense played well enough to win, the offense just shot themselves in the foot,” Minuteman coach Mark Whipple said. “Probably a little bit of it had to do with Old Dominion, but not very often you go to a game (where) there’s no turnovers.”

With the Monarchs (2-0) up 10-7 with under seven minutes left in play on the UMass seven-yard line, quarterback Jordan Hoy finagled his way into the end zone on a 7-yard rush to make it 16-7.

The extra-point was successful and the Minutemen failed to comeback in the remaining time, losing 17-7.

“Our guys showed a lot of resolve on defense,” Whipple said. “(ODU) can run the ball pretty well, they got some good running backs and we held them on fourth down.”

UMass’ defense played its best game of the season, allowing just 17 points, after surrendering 38 in the first two games.

Senior Ali Ali-Musa had a season-high 15 tackles, quintupling his totals from the prior two games of three.

Redshirt junior quarterback Andrew Ford struggled putting together an extensive drive, finishing 21-32 for 236 yards and one touchdown.

“(The loss) is on the offense, this is on me,” Ford said. “Ali and his guys did an unbelievable job today. We just got to get better.”

The Minutemen’s longest play, and only score, came early in the second half when Ford connected with junior wide receiver Andy Isabella on a 60-yard touchdown pass.

“I think it sparked us a little,” Isabella said. “We just got to keep playing hard and I think things will start going our way.”

ODU scored early, kicking a 28-yard field goal at the end of its opening drive, to go ahead 3-0.

The Monarchs eventually broke through, scoring a touchdown with just one minute left in the first half. Wide receiver Jonathan Duhart caught a 2-yard pass from quarterback Blake LaRussa to give the Monarchs a healthy 10-0 lead.

After starting on its own 14-yard-line, ODU drove 86 yards on nine plays to take the 10-point lead into the break.

The UMass offense was outdueled by ODU, who held the advantage in passing yards (129-113), rushing yards (90-30), and yards per play (5.76-3.86), in the first two quarters.

In an almost a complete 180-degree flip, the Minutemen scored their first touchdown of the game 34 seconds into the second half.

Ford took the snap and after scrambling out of the pocket he hit Isabella, who took off 60-yards for the touchdown.

Isabella’s speed has been evident through the first three games of the season, but his score Saturday was the clearest example of his game-breaking quickness as he went the 60-yard distance untouched to cut the Monarchs lead to 10-7.

ODU seemed to be taking control of the game with a long drive that stretched into the start of the fourth quarter. However, a UMass stop on a Monarchs fourth-and-one play on the Minutemen goal line was UMass’ biggest defensive stop of the battle.

“Yes, it actually did,” Ali-Musa said regarding if the stop gave the squad some momentum. “We just listened to what our coach said and we just executed. Everybody on the defensive line did their job and that’s what made the stop.”

That energy seemed to have been zapped out of the Minutemen defense though, as ODU scored a touchdown on its very next possession. Jordan Hoy’s seven-yard rush at six minutes, 59 seconds of the fourth quarter pushed the score to 17-7 Monarchs.

“We played well enough on defense to win the game,” Whipple said. “I think (the defense) will gain confidence, now the offense has got to go back (to what they were doing). We got to get both sides to play well together. I like this team as much as any since I’ve been here, I just to keep them up.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at rames@umass.edu and on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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