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 drops competitive season opener at No. 25 Florida

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

On the night when former coach Steve Spurrier was honored on the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium prior to Saturday night’s kickoff of the college football season for No. 25 Florida and the Massachusetts football team, the Gators made Spurrier wait a little while before heading for the exits with his team’s victory secure.

After being given $1.25 million to be handed a loss, UMass fought to the bitter end before bowing out of now Steve Spurrier-Florida Field after giving the Gators everything they seemingly had in a 24-7 defeat – a margin of victory many would think was improbable.

The Minutemen effort cannot be understated, as the defense was fast, explosive and at the point of attack in playing opportunistic football for the majority of the 60-minute affair.

Edge UMass linebacker Da’Sean Downey looked like an All-American on the field Saturday night, recording a forced fumble and a huge 4th-and-1 stop at the Minutemen five-yard line to turn the ball back over to the UMass offense.

The Gators opened the scoring in the first quarter on a 12-yard strike from Luke Del Rio to Antonio Callaway to cap a 71-yard, 11-play scoring drive.

The Minutemen responded with a touchdown of their own on the following drive. Ross Comis settled in the pocket only to be flushed with pressure, proceeding to avoid a defender and run his way into the end zone on a five-yard scamper.

Comis connected twice on deep balls to Andy Isabella, the first for 53-yards in the second quarter. Comis completed 9-of-17 passes in his first collegiate start for 141 yards.

It would be remise not to note that penalties and dropped passes were a major equalizer for much of the first three quarters. At one point in the second quarter, UMass had gained 35 yards and been gifted 36 in penalty yardage by Florida miscues.

The Gators added a field goal before the end of the second quarter to take a 10-7 halftime lead – a score that would remain intact for the next 15 minutes, which gave the Minutemen confidence and hope that they could be another team to knock off a favorite on what was a whacky day in college football.

Until the fourth quarter came around, where the on-field talent mismatch seemed to finally catch up to UMass, as Florida scored 11 consecutive points in a 3:10 span.

Eddy Pineiro added a 49-yard field goal, and Del Rio tossed his second touchdown of the game, this time to Brandon Powell for the 26-yard score.

Pineiro netted another field goal to close out the scoring and hand the Minutemen their first loss of the season.

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

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