Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Marquis Young propels UMass football into Liberty matchup

Senior rushed for season-high 148 yards vs. Connecticut

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Marquis Young propels UMass football into Liberty matchup

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Collegian

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Massachusetts football team needed its star running back, possibly more than ever, in its game against Connecticut last Saturday.

Not only did Marquis Young return to the gridiron after sitting out a week with an injury, the senior powered UMass (3-6) to a 22-17 win over the Huskies that snapped a three-game losing streak.

Young rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown in his triumphant return to the Minutemen backfield.

“We missed him, certainly in the Coastal Carolina game,” coach Mark Whipple said. “He was fresh and played hard and we gave him the ball. He responded and [the] guys around him blocked well. It wasn’t ideal conditions, but he held onto the ball and had a good game – a real good game.”

UMass’ running game has struggled to find momentum over the course of the year. In nine games, the Minutemen have averaged 138 rushing yards per game and a 4.2 average per rush. Meanwhile, the opposition has run for an average of 270 yards per game and gained an extra yard per rush – 5.7 yards.

Young has been the only bright spot in the UMass ground game. He’s rushed for 547 yards in eight games, including five touchdowns, while averaging 68.4 yards a game and 5.2 yards per rush.

The Fairport, New York native’s performance against the Huskies was his best of the season, as that was the first time he broke triple-digits in rushing yards.

Young feels a team effort will be in order to keep the consistent rushing attack alive for the rest of the season.

“Hopefully we can all just be there for each other,” Young said. “I help them out in the pass game, help them get open, make big plays in the air. Also, the offensive line, just staying motivated, doing the same things they’ve been doing throughout these past couple weeks. We’ve been practicing real hard. So hopefully we can bring that same momentum from Saturday into the game.”

UMass hosts Liberty in its final game at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in the 2018 season. Saturday’s matinee also marks Young’s last career game in Amherst and No. 8 is ready to roll.

“I’m so excited,” Young said. “I’m so excited to be playing here, this last game here at McGuirk. It’s kind of crazy, I feel like I got here last week, but yeah it’s a little bit of extra motivation to help my team out and hopefully bring in the win.”

While excited, Young also added it will be an emotional day, no matter what the final score reads.

“Every game is emotional for me,” Young said. “Every game is emotional for me just because this was a dream to me. But this being the last game here, part of my dream, playing college football here at UMass, being a Minuteman, is very emotional, [a] very emotional game [coming up].”

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

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