Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass edges UConn 22-17 to pick up first road win of season

Marquis Young rushes for 148 yards in the victory

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UMass edges UConn 22-17 to pick up first road win of season

Photo by Eva Trainer

Photo by Eva Trainer

Photo by Eva Trainer

Photo by Eva Trainer

By Ben Painchaud, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts football team picked up its first road win of the season Saturday, defeating Connecticut 22-17 in the pouring rain.

With 3:39 left to go in the contest, senior cornerback Lee Moses came up with an interception on a David Pindell lob down the right sideline, allowing UMass (3-6) to pull away with the victory.

“I thought both sides of the ball stepped up,” said UMass coach Mark Whipple. “And I told the team, ‘it wasn’t perfect, but it was perfect.’ So, we’ll enjoy this and credit UConn came right out and went down the field and ran the ball on us pretty well and their quarterback made plays but our guys seemed to hang in there and weren’t phased and had different energy on the sideline than we had last week. Really really proud of our guys.”

On the opening drive of the game, UConn (1-7) marched 82 yards down the field on 7 plays, punching it in from the goal line on a rush from running back Kevin Mensah. UMass answered right back with a 21-yard field goal from Cooper Garcia, making the score 7-3. From there, the going was slow for both teams.

“The conditions got better,” Whipple said. “Obviously, the surface was pretty good for a grass field. We just had to plan it. We played it close to the vest a little bit in the first half and we didn’t deviate. We saw some things, moved a couple pieces around.”

The score stayed knotted at 7-3 going into halftime. After going three and out, the UMass defense again allowed UConn to drive the ball right down its throat. A 25-yard rush from Pindell gave the Huskies a 14-3 lead.

And again, UMass answered. Facing fourth down and six on its ensuing drive, Ross Comis hit a streaking Andy Isabella in stride, and Isabella scampered in for the score.

The extra point was no good, leaving the game at 14-9 in favor of UConn. Less than three minutes into the fourth, UConn kicker Michael Tarbutt nailed a 41-yard field goal to pull the Huskies ahead, 17-9.

Comis then found a wide open Zak Simon up the seam on the first play of the Minutemen’s next possession, good for a 67-yard touchdown. Their two-point conversation failed, leaving the score at 17-15.

Linebacker Bryton Barr came up with a huge sack on UConn’s next drive to force a fourth down and 11 and a punt. From their 19-yard line, the Minutemen proceeded to rumble 81 yards down the field, capping off their 11 play drive with a 3 yard rush from Marquis Young, who was powered in with the help of a second push from the offensive line.

“We was just yelling, ‘Three yards! Three yards!’ in the huddle,” said Young. “They gave me the ball, offensive line took care of the rest, just kept driving my feet. Offensive line kept pushing me in and I just kept driving my feet. Motivated, just kept telling myself, ‘Three yards. Three yards.’”

Following Lee Moses’s critical interception, UMass went for it on fourth and one at the Huskies 41 yard line. Marquis Young was able to slip his way forward for the first, after the play was nearly blown up by a UConn defensive tackle. By then, UConn was down to just one timeout and was unable to do anything as UMass expired the clock.

For the Minutemen, Saturday’s game marked just the second time all season that they were able to check their opponent to less than 20 points.

“We knew what they were gonna do,” said safety Brice McAllister. “We knew all week what they were trying to do. We know how they love running with David [Pindell], they love giving the ball to Kevin [Mensah]. And then, with the weather, we figured it out, they were just gonna keep trying to run it, run it, run it. We kind of just adjusted to that as the game went on.”

The UMass defense will look to carry over its marked defensive improvement into next week when they take on Liberty at home.

Ben Painchaud can be reached at [email protected]

 

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