Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Takeaways from UMass football’s annual spring game

Randall West dazzles

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

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The Massachusetts football team wrapped up its spring season Friday night with its annual spring scrimmage.

Former ESPN host Chris Berman coached Team Maroon while ex-Minuteman Denis Gagnon led Team White.

Team White took the halftime lead and came away with the 29-26 win.

West dazzles at quarterback

With quarterback Andrew Ford playing only one series with each team and backup quarterback Ross Comis missing the game with a knee injury, the door opened for Randall West to take control of the offense of Team White. He did just that throwing for four touchdowns en route to the victory.

West entered the game on a fourth and eight from the opponents 25-yard line and was able to find Sadiq Palmer wide open in the left corner of the end zone for the first score of the game.

“It shot through the roof,” West said when asked about his confidence after the opening touchdown. “I went in cold on fourth down and you don’t know what to expect. The offensive line did a great job of protecting and Sadiq won on his route. We were fortunate to get a touchdown and it was a great way to start the game.”

The redshirt junior would toss two more touchdowns in the first half to give Team White a 21-10 lead heading into the break. West would sit the majority of the second half, but came back into the game in the fourth quarter with his team trailing, and drove them down the field and connected with Brennon Dingle for the game winning score.

Young and Fredericks combine for nearly 200 rushing yards

Team Maroon received strong play from its backfield. Senior Marquis Young had a couple explosive runs to bring the team into the red zone, totaling 101 yards and a touchdown on the day. Young also had one catch for 25 yards.

While Young brought the speed, redshirt junior Jordan Fredericks impressed with his power and ability to break tackles. The Syracuse transfer did not go down easy, running through the Team White defense on way to 92 yards on 15 carries.

Fredricks also got involved in the passing game, tossing a running back pass to quarterback Michael Curtis for a first down.

“I thought Jordan had a good day,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said. “Marquis broke some runs and he’s had a really good spring. Jordan tweaked his knee a little bit in camp but has shown flashes. We hadn’t tackled and he’s a big back and can make people miss. That’s why he was a good player at Syracuse as a freshman.”

Andrew Ford’s appearance

The redshirt senior only played two possessions, alternating between both teams to start the game, finishing with five completions for five yards.

A few of his five throws came with Ford curling to his right side but the ball still spiraled out without a hitch.

In 11 games this season, Ford threw for 2924 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions.

The senior QB’s season was in jeopardy after taking a vicious hit against Appalachian State on Oct. 28. Ford only missed the next game against Mississippi State and returned to finish out the year vs. Maine and at Florida International.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder also tossed an interception in his first possession, into the hands of linebacker Chinedu Ogbonna. 

Turned the tables

A sophomore, Ogbonna recorded the only interception of the night after Ford’s pass over the middle was deflected and caught in the early minutes of the contest.

In a game that featured over 450 yards of offense, Ogbonna’s pick was one of the highlights for the defense.

“It was a really good game, it was our best spring game,” Whipple said. “I thought they were competitive and I thought guys made plays. We did a good job of preparing and the coaches did a nice job the last few days.” 

Double trouble

Team White had a pair of wide receivers in Palmer and Dingle play well in its three-point win.

Dingle earned 105 yards and a touchdown on five receptions while Palmer hauled in three passes for 65 yards.

Palmer and West looked to have a solid chemistry, especially in the first half, as the two combined for a couple passes early, including a lengthy catch and run by Palmer.

“I think it’s developed even more over the spring,” West said of his chemistry with Palmer. “I’ve gotten some good reps with him, along with the other quarterbacks. And really it’s just a trust and I know what’s he’s seeing and I can depend on him that he’s going to be in his spot.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @_RyanAmes. Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @TJ__Johnston.

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