UMass football remains winless with loss to Bowling Green

By Cameron McDonough

Saturday followed a familiar script for the Massachusetts football team.

Evan Sahagian/ Collegian

The Minutemen hung around and went toe-to-toe with Bowling Green for the first quarter, but an inability to put points on the board and a failure to give the defense a break proved costly in their Mid-American Conference opener.

The Falcons broke through with a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter and never looked back, winning 28-7 in front of 13,799 fans at Doyt Perry Stadium.

The offensive issues did not go unnoticed by UMass coach Charley Molnar in his postgame press conference.

“Offensively we had a number of situations where we had answers and we didn’t execute them to our very best,” he said. “That, obviously, left the defense on the field. They had 40 some-odd snaps in the first half, and I don’t know if they ever quite recovered in the second half. I think they came out with less gas in the tank than I would have liked to have seen.”

UMass (0-5, 0-1 MAC) quarterback A.J. Doyle took a step back on Saturday after a pair of positive performances against Kansas State and Vanderbilt. He finished 4-for-17 with just 20 yards through the air, and was replaced by Mike Wegzyn during the second half. Wegzyn found some success, completing 7-of-8 passes for 76 yards and a late touchdown throw to Tajae Sharpe to prevent the shutout.

While the passing game struggled against Bowling Green’s defense, which is No. 1 in the MAC, the running game found some success behind redshirt sophomore Jamal Wilson. He finished the day with a career-high 119 yards for his first ever 100-yard rushing performance.

And while UMass continued to struggle on offense, the Falcons’ got on the board twice in the second quarter. First on a 51-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Johnson to Ronnie Moore, then on a 1-yard touchdown run by William Houston.

Bowling Green (5-1, 3-0 MAC)  struck twice more in the second quarter on a 23-yard pass from Johnson to Tyler Beck and on a 9-yard pass from Johnson to Heath Jackson.

Johnson finished with 166 yards and three touchdowns on 11-of-20 passing. Leading the way on the ground for the Falcons was Travis Greene, who finished with 160 yards. Bowling Green finished with 448 total yards compared to the Minutemen’s 280. The large gap mostly came from the passing game where the Falcons outgained UMass 216-96.

The Minutemen’s inability to maintain their early momentum was striking, but Molnar doesn’t believe that this is an issue of conditioning.

“It’s just because some of the guys have to play so many reps, be it on offense or defense along with the kicking game,” he said. “Because we do lack quality numbers right now, and we have to leave some guys in for an awful lot of work and it catches up to us at the end of the game.”

Another issue for the UMass defensive was its injury problems. Both Ed Saint-Vil and Kevin Byrne, for non-football reasons, missed Saturdays’ game, and their replacements, Trey Seals and Tom Brandt each suffered injuries during the game.

“Just the cumulative bumps and bruises right now are really taking their toll on both sides of the ball,” Molnar said. “But, today, defensively, it really hurt.”

After the loss, the Minutemen are still without a win in 2013. They will try to find win No. 1 against Miami (Ohio) next Saturday at 3 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.

 

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Cam_McDonough.