QB question headlines Spring Game at UMass

By Herb Scribner

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UMassathletics.com

UMassathletics.com

With the recent decision by the Massachusetts football team to move from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Mid-American Conference dominating the discourse about UMass football this spring, there has been a lot of football left to be desired for UMass fans.

On Saturday afternoon, the Minutemen defense and offense competed in an unorthodox contest that saw the defensive unit coming out with a 44-42 victory.

“It was a good day, the score ended up really tight in the end, which you want,” said UMass coach Kevin Morris. “You want a good competitive battle.”

“We were all excited to come out here, start flying around, start playing some football and having fun,” said transfer quarterback Kellen Pagel, who comes to the Minutemen from to be MAC foe Bowling Green.

The contest did not feature traditional scoring metrics with, as Morris explained after the game, points being awarded for touchdowns, defensive stops, interceptions, first downs and other plays.

These untraditional scoring measures gave the defense ample opportunity to earn the victory, as it scored its game-winning points when cornerback Mike Lee broke up a pass to Jesse Julmiste.

Christian Birt and Ryan Carter led the defense as both nabbed an interception. Additionally, Tom Brandt, Carlito Weaver and Stanley Andre earned sacks throughout the competition.

Though the defense earned the victory, there was a lot of offense displayed on the field.

The offense started to pull away early, as it had a 28-12 advantage at one point in the spring game. Part of the offense’s success came from Pagel, who transferred from Bowling Green, which went 2-10 last year. Pagel (93 yards, 5-for-9 passing) is unsure if he is going to play with the Minutemen this fall because of transfer rules, but he said he submitted an appeal to the NCAA.

“Honestly, I don’t have very much say in what goes on or I don’t really know what is going on,” said Pagel. “I’m just coming out here every day and practicing as if I am going to play, and I sure hope I do.”

Pagel threw three touchdowns in the spring game, one of them coming off a crowd-pleasing flea flicker that saw Pagel catch the final touchdown of the game. The defense was not allowed to hit the quarterback on that play, which gave Pagel the opportunity to score the touchdown.

“It might be a little different down the road when you’re throwing that out there and hanging out and he might have to be ready to take a hit,” said Morris. “It was a fun play for the kids to try and get everybody involved and keep the thing light and at the same time focused.”

Pagel also started the game with a 1-yard run for the first score for the offense.

Pagel wasn’t the only quarterback who got a workout on Saturday either, as redshirt freshman Brandon Hill and sophomores Ian Shultis and Raymond Pendagast all competed under center. The trio went a combined 6-for-10 with 68 yards.

“We have no game experience for a quarterback going into the 2011 season, so it’s real important to give these guys a lot of reps,” said Morris. “It was a much more comfortable day. They were more worried about leading the 10 guys than worrying about themselves like they have been in previous practices.”

Jonathan Hernandez had one run on the day for 22 yards.

Igor Garcia shared kicking duties with Brendon Levengood, with the former adding two extra points to help add to the offense’s total.

The Minutemen begin their final season in the CAA on Sept. 1 at Holy Cross with their first home game coming Sept. 17 against Rhode Island.

UMass will be ineligible for the playoffs this coming season as it prepares to jump from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2012.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]