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November 16, 2017

UMass football unable to make the big plays, falls to Temple 29-21

(Caroline O’Connor/ Daily Collegian)

Sometimes in order to a win a team just needs to catch a break.

The Massachusetts football team never got that moment as Temple handed the Minutemen their fourth loss, beating UMass 29-21.

They nearly caught one in the third quarter, when a Mike Jones’ fumble on the kick off was recovered by the Owls (2-1). A near Isaiah Rodgers interception on the ensuing play was almost the play the Minutemen (0-4) were looking for as well.

But the clutch fumble or interception never came, running the UMass’ streak to 15 consecutive quarters without recovering a turnover.

“They made a couple of big plays and we didn’t,” Minutemen coach Mark Whipple said. “We haven’t had [a turnover] since the first quarter [of the Hawaii game] I’ve never seen anything like it my life. I said it last week, I like these guys. I feel for them more. They’re fighting and they’re practicing and they’re good to be around. They come down here on a short week and we played some young guys. We’re just, a take away, a block kick, pick it up.”

While UMass was unable to capitalize on such moments, the Owls seized an opportunity to send the Minutemen to the locker room with an extra level of distaste.

An uneventful first half ended by being anything but. Shortly after quarterback Ford connected with Nick Orekoya for a touchdown to give UMass its first lead since its game against Hawaii, the Owls responded with a touchdown drive of their own.

With things quickly back to how they were, the Minutemen had a little more than a minute to redeem their defense. Temple defensive lineman Quincy Roche had other ideas. With already two sacks, Roche hunted down a running Ford, stripped sacked the quarterback and recovered the fumble.

Three plays later, the Owls scored again sending UMass to the locker room down 16-7.

Ford found himself wrapped up by a defender on eight occasions, Friday evening. This makes It back-to-back games in which Ford has been sacked eight times. According to Whipple, some blame falls on Ford’s shoulders.

“He has to get rid of the ball on a couple of them,” Whipple said. “He just hung onto the ball in the red zone and you can’t do that on first down. We worked hard on it and Temple has some guys that can rush the passer. The blitz came and we knew that was coming, but we wouldn’t be talking about it if we made the field goals.”

Despite being sacked eight times, Ford finished the game with 377 passing yards and two touchdowns. He should have had two more but both Andy Isabella and Jacoby Herring dropped passes in the end zone, hitting off their hands.

The Minutemen ultimately lost the game by eight points. Despite all of the Minutemen’s shortcomings on offense, they missed out on nine points due to three missed field goals by redshirt freshman kicker Michael Schreiner.

“He had his best week,” Whipple said of Schreiner past week of practice. “We had two good kickers that were hurt so you got to go with the walk on guy, obviously he’s not ready.”

Schreiner is 0-4 on field goals this season.

On top of the missed scoring opportunities on field goals, Whipple expressed extreme disappointed in the officials for picking up a defensive flag called on Temple at the goal line.

“One guy over ruled him,” Whipple said as to why the flag was picked up. “I mean I told them, it’s national television, this the kind of team you got? You over rule one of the others? I’ve never heard of it. I’ve coached in this league, in this building. It’s JV. We played like a JV team at times but last week we didn’t have replay. What are we Division III? You don’t have replay? It cost us fumble and another toe tap.”

After a short week of practice, UMass will have a little more time to prepare for Tennessee, which it will play next Saturday at noon in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Philip Sanzo can be reached at psanzo@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.

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