Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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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

Isabella, Ford dazzle in UMass football’s Gridiron Series victory over Maine

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

Massachusetts football quarterback Andrew Ford and wide receiver Andy Isabella were feeling it in UMass’ 44-31 win against Maine Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

The redshirt junior threw four touchdowns in the victory over the Black Bears, and Isabella was on the receiving end of three of those, which led the Minutemen.

“[Isabella] was one of those guys I had mentioned earlier with the matchups,” Ford said. “We felt like with his speed, and being able to motion him out of the backfield was going to open up some windows. He made my job easy, I just had to get it to him. So give all those guys the credit and [Isabella] is just a great player. I was excited for him to have the game that he had today.”

Isabella set a new career-high in touchdown receptions with the three scores, finishing the game with 152 yards on eight receptions.

The last UMass (3-7) player to record three touchdown receptions was back in 2012 when Minuteman wide receiver Alan Williams caught three against Ohio, on Sept. 29.

The dynamic duo started off hot when Ford hit Isabella early in the first quarter for the second UMass touchdown of the afternoon.

The junior wide receiver caught a Ford bullet on the Minutemen 31-yard line and then sprinted 69 yards to the end zone to extend UMass’ lead to 14-7 with 11:32 left on the clock.

About 10 minutes later, Ford lofted one up for Isabella, who hauled it in and notched his second score on a 12-yard catch making it 21-7, Minutemen.

“You can see [Isabella] against Old Dominion, he can catch it for two yards and take it 60 or he can run 55 yards and have to throw it out there and have him run underneath it,” Ford, who’s final stat line read 21-for-39 for 355 yards, said. “He’s a dynamic player because I don’t know if we lined him up in the same spot all game. That’s tough on a defense to locate him, and once you find him, you have to be able to keep up with the speed. [He’s] a total matchup problem that I love throwing him the ball so you know just keep using him to our advantage.”

After a slow start to the second half that saw Isabella drop two straight passes from Ford on UMass’ opening drive, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound pass-catcher rounded out the trifecta with a 14-yard touchdown reception.

“I got to make two, some more catches I got to make,” Isabella said. “I got to play harder when I’m tired so still a lot of stuff for us to improve [upon]. We got to get on the same page a little more but overall we got the win so move on and get better on Monday.”

Ford returned to the Minutemen lineup after getting stretchered off the field in UMass’ 30-27 win over Appalachian State Oct. 28 and looked polished, with his 355 yards passing just 35 yards shy of surpassing his career-high, set on Sept. 30 opposite Ohio.

“It’s good to have Ford back, good to see him around practicing and stuff,” said Isabella, who now sits in ninth place on the Minutemen’s all-time list for most career touchdown receptions, tying Chip Mitchell. “[He’s a] great quarterback so he did a great job.”

“He’s a great player, extremely fast,” Maine (4-5, 3-4 Colonial Athletic Conference) coach Joe Harasymiak said about Isabella. “We talked about this week is just, we’re going to be in 1-on-1 situations because usually a [Football Bowl Subdivision] team does what they’re going to do and they’re not going to change their game plan. So it’s going to come down to 1-on-1 matchups and he certainly won his. He’s a great player and give credit to [UMass].”

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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