Minutemen ousted by BC, 45-17

By Michael Wood

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Boston College intercepted the Massachusetts football team’s first play from scrimmage and never looked back, routing UMass, 45-17, in front of 30,176 fans at Alumni Stadium Saturday.

Junior defensive back Hampton Hughes stepped in front of UMass quarterback Kellen Pagel’s first attempt and took it the other way to set the Eagles up with a short field on their first possession of the day. A few short plays later, the Minutemen were down by seven points.

“The safety made a good play on [the ball],” said Pagel. “But I still understand where I need to put the ball and on that particular throw, I didn’t do that.”

UMass’ offense struggled to find its rhythm all day and didn’t score until the second quarter, when wide receiver Jesse Julmiste returned a kickoff for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Pagel appeared hesitant all day, spending more time outside the pocket on the run thanks to a formidable push from BC’s defensive line. When he did get a few seconds to throw, he was rushed in his delivery and the Eagles were quick to capitalize on his mistakes.

“We knew today that we were going to have to come out and execute and be mentally and physically sharp,” said Pagel. “And, well, there were some times where we didn’t get it done.”

Pagel’s counterpart, BC quarterback Chase Rettig, enjoyed plenty of time to read coverages and find open receivers and was rarely pressured out of the pocket. While his completion percentage was not much better than Pagel’s in the first half, each of his throws moved the Eagles’ offense down the field, and two deep passes set up easy scoring chances. Rettig finished the game 14-of-22 for 196 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked twice and fumbled once.

Trailing BC for the entire game, UMass was forced to alter its game plan and that meant fewer carries for the team’s best playmaker, senior running back Jonathan Hernandez. He managed 80 yards on the ground on 22 carries and also scored one touchdown, but that score came late in the fourth quarter when the Eagles had already put the game out of reach.

In contrast, BC tailback Andre Williams racked up 95 yards on 20 carries. Williams showcased his talent on the Eagles’ first possession of the game, when he totaled 39 yards on the ground as part of an 11-play, 47-yard scoring drive that put his team ahead 7-0.

The scoring drive headlined by Williams was only a piece of a first half dominated by the Eagles.

After intercepting Pagel’s first pass of the game and subsequently scoring a quick touchdown, BC dominated the Minutemen in nearly every aspect of the game.

Rettig threw 11 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns, most of which came on long throws down the field, deep into UMass territory. His completion percentage wasn’t much better than Pagel’s, but his throws moved the Eagles down the field all game.

Rettig spread the ball around as well, not favoring one receiver over another. Colin Larmond recorded 55 yards and a touchdown, Bobby Swigert was thrown to three times and Johnathan Coleman caught one ball for 24 yards.

Additionally, the Minutemen were flagged five times for a total of 58-yards, and didn’t make it into the red zone on any of their drives.

The only bright spot for the Maroon and White was the play of their special teams, specifically Julmiste. He returned five kickoffs for 205 yards and a touchdown, shattering the previous UMass record for kickoff yards in a single game in the process. Julmiste finished the day with seven returns for a total of 252 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 36 yards per return.

“I always felt it,” said Julmiste. “I was just waiting for that that time for me to pop out and today was a good day for me to do that.”

UMass will play Old Dominion next weekend. The game is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

“We talk about every rep, and you try to get better every rep you play,” said UMass coach Kevin Morris. “We got a lot of reps in today, but we’re hopefully better, play-to-play than we were when we started the ballgame.”

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected]