Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass football falls to Bowling Green 47-42 in return to McGuirk Stadium

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Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

The script could not have been set up more perfectly when Blake Frohnapfel and the rest of the Massachusetts offense took the field with two minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the game.

With zero timeouts and 87-yards of turf separating the Minutemen from their first victory of the season in the first game at McGuirk Stadium since 2011, there wasn’t a single person on the UMass sideline that doubted Frohnapfel’s ability to drive down the field and win the game.

“Any quarterback growing up wants to be in that situation,” Frohnapfel said. “That’s a situation that you dream about and hope it happens.”

Frohnapfel had a career day, finishing with a school-record 589 passing yards and five touchdowns, which tied quarterbacks coach Liam Coen’s record for most passing touchdowns in a single game.

“I’m not here to break records, I’m here to win games. That’s why I came here,” Frohnapfel said.

But when Frohnapfel hit freshmen running back J.T. Blyden six yards down the field, the clock struck midnight on the Minutemen.

Blyden turned up field but was immediately stuffed by three Bowling Green defenders. Leading the charge was linebacker James Sanford, who stripped the ball from Blyden only to have teammate Clint Stephens fall on the loose football to secure the 47-42 win for the Falcons.

“He’s a freshmen. … You can’t blame him for that,” Frohnapfel said. “There were so many other chances we had and he just happened to make the last one. He’s done a great job this year and I don’t think anyone is going to be worried about him.”

There is only one word that can describe the 57 minutes leading up to the final possession: madness.

The three hour, 56 minute marathon featured 89 points, 1,307 total yards, 200 plays and a newly installed video board that collapsed midway through the third quarter. UMass and Bowling Green exchanged blows back-and-forth that resulted in seven lead changes.

The Minutemen were the first on the scoreboard when Frohnapfel found wide receiver Jalen Williams 80 yards downfield on a play-action pass that erupted the 17,000 fans – a sellout crowd – that were in attendance. That was Williams’ only reception of the game.

Tajae Sharpe was the leader of the Minutemen’s receiving core, finishing with career highs in receptions (13), receiving yards (179) and touchdowns (two). Rodney Mills and Alex Kenney accounted for the other two receiving touchdowns for UMass.

Although the passing numbers look great from the Minutemen, the run game was a completely different story. As a team, UMass finished with only 49 rushing yards on 31-carries, an average of just 1.6 yards per carry.

Shadrach Abrokwah started at running back for the Minutemen after a four-game, non-football, non-disciplinary suspension. After an impressive 2013 campaign, Abrokwah finished with just 37 rushing yards on 14 carries. His lone touchdown came from one yard out, following fullback Matt Tuleja out of the I-formation.

“The bottom line is we have to find a way to get another touchdown somewhere, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams” UMass coach Mark Whipple said.

The Minutemen offense putting up record-setting numbers, but the defense struggled to prevent the Bowling Green offense from finding the back of the end zone. The Falcons ran a total of 108 offensive plays and accumulated 668 total yards.

“We’re 0-5. That’s it,” Randall Jette said. “I don’t care how good they are, we should have won,”

UMass (0-5, 0-1 Mid American Conference) travels to Miami (OH) – the only team that the Minutemen beat in 2013 – next Saturday.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected], and can be followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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