Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass football suffers setback in loss at WMU

Maria Uminski/Collegian

All the progress the Massachusetts football team had been making in its inaugural season in the Football Bowl Subdivision and Mid-American Conference came crashing down on Saturday afternoon.

UMass (0-6, 0-3 MAC) accumulated its lowest total yardage (218) since its week one debacle at Connecticut as Western Michigan stomped the Minutemen, 52-14, in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The Broncos (3-3, 1-1 MAC) jumped out to a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter and never looked back, torching UMass to the tune of 551 yards and seven touchdowns.

The loss ended a five-game streak in which the Minutemen scored more points than the week before. The setback was also a week removed from UMass’ best offensive performance of the year in its 37-34 loss to Ohio on Sept. 29.

UMass coach Charley Molnar was very frustrated after the loss, especially considering the progress that his Minutemen had made since their brutal start to the season.

“If we didn’t have such a good week of practice, I’d sit here in front of you and say, ‘I’m not surprised,’ but I am surprised,” Molnar said in an interview with UMass Athletics. “I knew that Western (Michigan) was good, there was no doubt in my mind. There were no surprises to me across the field. I just thought our guys would be more competitive.”

Redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Wegzyn only managed 88 yards through the air, completing 12 of 19 passes before being relieved by fellow freshman signal-caller A.J. Doyle late in the third quarter with the Minutemen trailing, 49-7. UMass’ 14 points is its lowest scoring output since Sept. 15 at Michigan (13).

On the other side, WMU quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen dissected the Minutemen defense all afternoon, completing 23 of 28 passes for 283 yards, five touchdowns and an interception.

Van Tubbergen put the game out of reach early with touchdown passes on three consecutive drives in the first half to give the Broncos complete control of the contest. The first came with five minutes, 34 seconds left in the first quarter on a 12-yard strike to Brian Fields to open

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up the scoring.

After a Van Tubbergen touchdown strike to Justin Collins made it 14-0, WMU recovered the ensuing kickoff on a squib-kick. Four plays and 1:35 later, Van Tubbergen made it 21-0 on a 7-yard touchdown to Matt Cutler.

Molnar felt his team didn’t have the confidence to stay with the Broncos firepower on offense.

“When they saw Western (Michigan) move down the field the first series and score, I think doubts started to immediately creep into our football team,” Molnar said. “Like on offense, like, ‘Oh my gosh. We’re going to have to play perfect,’ and (the) defense is wondering, ‘Are we going to be able to stop these guys?’ You could feel it.”

WMU ran over UMass on 268 yards of rushing, including three Broncos that finished the game with at least 60 yards on the ground.

Minuteman running back Michael Cox couldn’t get anything going, managing only 19 yards — 12 coming on one run — on 11 carries and a touchdown. Cox’s score put UMass on the board in the closing seconds of the first half to cut the deficit to 28-7.

Doyle led all UMass rushers with 42 yards on the ground on five carries. He could have had more if it weren’t for a referee error on a particular play in the third quarter.

With the Minutemen trailing 49-7 late in the quarter, Doyle faked to Cox on a zone read and burst up field with open field in front of him. But the referee thought Cox had the ball and whistled the play dead when he was stopped in the backfield. Doyle was credited with a 23-yard run, but could have had much more.

“It looked like he was ready to take it to the house,” Molnar said. “But who knows, the final score would have been what, 52-21 if he had, it wouldn’t have had any major impact on the outcome of the game. It would have been nice.

“It was a great fake. That’s just the bottom line. He just blew the whistle too fast, that’s all I’ll say.”

Jordan Broadnax scored his first career touchdown on a 10-yard run late in the game that made the score 52-14. On defense, linebacker Perry McIntyre recorded a team-high 13 tackles while Darren Thellen notched his second interception of the season, which he returned for 38 yards.

Key players absent

Three contributing Minutemen — including two starters — didn’t make the trip with the team after violating academic related team rules.

Receiver Alan Williams, who had three touchdowns against Ohio, headlined the missing group, in addition to guard Nick Speller and nickel-back Mike Lee.

Molnar said he “didn’t miss any of them” in the loss.

“Here’s one thing for sure: Guys are going to go to class,” Molnar said. “Guys are going to take care of their academic responsibilities if they want to play football here.

“Sometimes when guys are starters or are making plays, they think that they’re above the law and that’s not the case here,” Molnar added.

Molnar said that the players’ future eligibility will be decided by him.

“It’s up to me. I’ll just decide how things go,” Molnar said. “When I see that guys are making an effort to, again, be a good teammate, do the same thing that everybody else has to do, follow the same rules (and) regulations, be on time for the responsibilities. If I see a sincere effort on their part, things will change.”

UMass is idle next week for its bye week and hosts Bowling Green on Oct. 20 at Gillette Stadium for its Homecoming game.

Stephen Sellner can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Stephen_Sellner.

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