The Massachusetts football team just cannot seem to get out of its own way.
UMass traveled to the south to face-off against Coastal Carolina Saturday, and lost 38-28 at Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina.
The Minutemen (0-2) were in punching distance the entire game, but a couple fumbles and some costly incomplete passes allowed the Chanticleers (1-0) to walk away victorious.
“I’m disappointed in our offensive line,” Whipple said to reporters. “We need to run the ball better. Credit (Coastal Carolina). Especially the last drive, when we’re down two scores, we have to make a stop. We can’t (force a turnover). We’ve been working on it. We did it all camp. But we’ve had one takeaway in two games. It’s a field position game and they held onto it.”
With the score tied 21-21 in the third quarter, CCU would score the next 17 points (two touchdowns and a field goal) to pull away from UMass in its season-opening win.
Running back Osharmar Abercrombie went off against the Minutemen, compiling 149 yards and two touchdowns on 17 attempts.
The Chanticleers were dominant on the ground, pouring on 329 total rushing yards, while UMass could only muster 79 yards.
Redshirt senior tight-end Adam Breneman followed up his impressive first game with another gem hauling in nine catches for 126 yards for the Minutemen. However he left the game early with an apparent ankle injury.
UMass fell behind eight minutes, 21 seconds into the game when quarterback Dalton Demos scored on a one-yard rush after redshirt junior quarterback Andrew Ford fumbled on the previous possession.
The Minutemen responded with their first touchdown of the evening when junior running back Marquis Young rushed in for a four-yard touchdown at the 6:48 mark in the first quarter.
With just 47 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Demos reached the end zone again, this time on a 22-yard rushing touchdown, to give the Chanticleers a 14-7 lead.
The Minutemen didn’t take long to tie the game back up in the second quarter.
Ford found junior Andy Isabella in the back corner of the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown reception at 10:48 to make it 14-14.
Isabella was also busy in this one, catching six passes for 101 yards.
Much like the first quarter, CCU scored a last-minute touchdown prior to the conclusion of the first half.
Abercrombie scored on a four-yard rushing touchdown to put the Chanticleers back up by a score.
UMass came out strong in the second half, scoring on a 9-yard keeper from Ford, to knot the score at 21-21.
Ford finished the night going 25-41 for 316 yards, while combining for a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown.
CCU kicked a 46-yard field goal with 9:24 remaining in the third quarter to again go up, this time by three points, making it 24-21.
The Chanticleers tacked on another touchdown during the third quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Keane to Chris Jones to put CCU up by 10 points, 31-21.
Keane and Demos split reps at quarterback for the home team.
At the 11:00 minute mark of the fourth quarter, UMass had a chance to make it a one-possession game, however Ford was unable to find an open receiver in the end zone, thus squandering a great chance to get back in the game.
With time ticking down in regulation, the Chanticleers added one more rushing touchdown with 3:45 remaining to put the dagger in the hearts of the Minutemen.
Young scored on a one-yard touchdown with 1:10 left in what was a meaningless tally, as CCU earned its first victory of the season, and in FBS football, beating UMass 38-28.
“We weren’t sure what we were going to get,” Whipple said. “When you’re playing that kind of team it’s always better to get ahead and then we give them seven right off the bat with the fumble. That gave them momentum, got the crowd into it.”
Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @_RyanAmes.