UMass football’s season comes to close with loss to Ohio

By Cameron McDonough

Year 2 of the Massachusetts football team’s move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision is in the books, and the results look awfully similar to Year 1.

The Minutemen closed out the 2013 season with only one win and 11 losses, the same record as last season, with that one win coming against a winless Miami (Ohio) team.

Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian

And in similar fashion to last season, UMass closed out the year on a sour note, losing to Ohio 51-23 on Friday in front of a crowd of 13,162 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

The Bobcats (7-5, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) jumped out to an early 14-0 lead over the Minutemen and would never look back despite UMass (1-11, 1-7 MAC) pulling withing four points early in the second quarter.  However, that was as close as it would get as Ohio pushed the lead up to 31-10 by halftime.

The Bobcats had their way with the Minutemen’s defense throughout the game as they ran for 215 yards and threw for 246, finishing with a total of 461 yards compared to UMass’ 290.

“I’m really pleased to see them bounce back and play – what I thought – were four quarters of pretty good football,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “Every now and then a drive would stall and the other team would get things going, but that’s football.

“For the most part, we played very hard and very well for four quarters of football. That’s what we wanted to end the regular season.”

Beau Blankenship led the Ohio rushing attack with 124 yards and a 50-yard touchdown to open up the scoring. Ryan Boykin also chipped in with 28 yards and a 6-yard rushing touchdown with 6:29 left in the second quarter.

Quarterback Tyler Tettleton was 18-for-27 passing with two touchdowns and an interception. His first touchdown throw came at the 10:45 mark in the first quarter on a 2-yard pass to Chase Cochran to put his team up 14-0 at the time. His next one didn’t come until there was 4:08 remaining in the third quarter on a 4-yard pass to Landon Smith that put the game well out of reach for UMass at 38-20.

The Bobcats didn’t just score on offense; they were also aided by two big mistakes by Minutemen quarterbacks that led to 14 points. Travis Carrie returned an interception 66 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and then followed it up with a 30-yard interception return to put the icing on the cake with 4:19 left in the game.

The first interception return was especially critical as it put Ohio back up by double digits after UMass had cut the lead to 14-10.

“Well he was pressured and stepped up and threw the ball when he was moving to the side and just wasn’t on balance and I’m sure he would want to take that throw back, I certainly wish he could,” UMass coach Charley Molnar said. “I could really feel our guys thought they could get back into the football game. I don’t think all the wind left our sails, but it definitely hurt us.”

Despite the lopsided final score, UMass did find some success on offense, especially in the running game. Walk-on freshman running back Shadrach Abrokwah ran for 110 yards and one touchdown in his second game for the Minutemen.

“He’s a talented young man and we haven’t seen the best of him. I can tell you he works really hard and he has some talent,” Molnar said. “We kept pounding him because that is what was working best for us today.”

The quarterback play was shaky throughout the game. A.J. Doyle only completed four of his 12 pass attempts for 109 yards and a touchdown to go with his two picks. Wegzyn also saw some playing time and completed 2-of-6 attempts for 28 yards and an interception. Matt Quinn also got a chance at quarterback, but his one attempt fell incomplete.

Finding the quarterback of the future is now one of Molnar’s top tasks heading into the offseason.

“It’s obviously is an area we need to improve quickly,” he said. “This team is ready to turn the corner and we need a leader to help us make that turn faster.”

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