Defense rises in UMass football’s 28-7 smacking of Richmond

By Michael Wood

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

After trying to curb its own turnover problems for much of the season, the Massachusetts football team took to causing them on Saturday, defeating Richmond, 28-7, on the road.

Defense stood tall in Richmond for the Minutemen as the unit caused a season-high six turnovers and also sacked Spiders quarterbacks Aaron Corp and John Laub a total of six times.

“All week we had film of Corp so we were able to pick him apart,” said linebacker Tyler Holmes. “I think we just wanted to rattle him, and we were able to do that today.”

Kirk Nelms, Holmes, Darren Thellan and Ryan Carter all grabbed interceptions in the game, and Perry McIntyre led the unit with 11 tackles and one sack.

“Obviously the turnovers were critical for us,” said UMass coach Kevin Morris. “We got a number of turnovers on the plus-minus margin and you have to do that to win on the road in the CAA and we did today.”

In causing so many turnovers, UMass managed to do what New Hampshire accomplished against them a week ago, and that’s play most of the game with a short field. As such, the team won the battle of field position and controlled the tempo of the game from start to finish.

“What a game-changer [turnovers were],” said Morris. “You make those turnovers and give your offense a chance to put the ball down in [opposing territory]. Everybody feeds off that.”

On offense, a healthy dose of runs from tailback Jonathan Hernandez battered down the Spiders’ defense and also allowed the passing game to move the ball effectively down the field throughout the contest.

Hernandez finished the game with 103 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries for his 10th career 100-yard game. Behind him, Alan Williams ran for 47 yards.

Through the air, UMass quarterback Kellen Pagel bested Corp, going 14-of-25 for 192 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked only once on the day and didn’t throw an interception. By comparison, Corp finished 22-of-39 with 196 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.

Pagel’s favorite target was senior wideout Jesse Julmiste, who hauled in seven catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. Both the catches and yards were career-highs for Julmiste. He also returned one kickoff for 19 yards.

Behind Julmiste, Tom Gilson caught three balls for 29 yards, senior Julian Talley made two catches for 38 yards and Rob Blanchflower had one reception for 14 yards.

The Minutemen held Richmond to just 66 rushing yards gained on the ground and allowed under 300-yards through the air. Tailback Kendall Glaskins led the Spiders rushing attack, carrying the ball 13 times for 18 yards, and Laub ran nine times out of the pocket for six yards.

 

The Spiders scored their only points of the day in the second quarter when Tre Gray caught a six-yard pass from Corp for a touchdown. After the 80-yard drive, Richmond failed to score again as UMass’ defense held strong for the remainder of the day.

“It was a big win for us,” said Hernandez. “We’ve been treating every game like it’s a playoff game.”

There are three games left in the season for UMass, beginning next Saturday.

The Minutemen will return to the friendly confines of McGuirk Stadium next weekend, as the squad will take on Villanova for its annual homecoming festivities. The game will be televised on CBS 3, and kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Michael Wood can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @MDC_Wood.