Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Poor third quarter hinders UMass football in loss to BYU

Minutemen net just 25 yards of offense in third quarter

Caroline O'Connor

Caroline O'Connor

By Thomas Johnston, Assistant Sports Editor

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FOXBOROUGH — It was a third quarter to forget for the UMass football team.

Trailing Brigham Young by just four at the half, the Minutemen (4-7) went stagnant on offense, going three and out on three of its four possessions in the third quarter while netting a mere 25 yards of offense.

Meanwhile, BYU (5-5) kept its foot on the gas with two touchdown drives to extend the lead and ultimately lead them to a 35-16 victory.

“They probably just woke up,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said about BYU’s second half adjustments. “We weren’t as sharp offensively but I think a lot of that has to do with BYU.

“We weren’t very good on third down. Credit them. We have to be better and control the ball which we try to do and we did in the first quarter but we couldn’t do in the third quarter.”

UMass opened the game with an impressive first drive, moving effortlessly down the field before the Cougar defense locked down in the red zone, holding the Minutemen to a field goal.

On BYU’s first offensive play of the game, running back Aleva Hifo put the ball on the ground after a mishandle of the handoff, and Jake Byczko recovered it to set UMass up at the Cougar 31-yard line. Eight plays later, running back Marquis Young powered it in from two yards out to put the Minutemen up two scores.

Whipple was pleased with the start, but knew that getting field goals against a team of BYU’s caliber would not be enough to win the game.

“We knew how good they were,” Whipple said. “We had a field goal in the red zone on the opening drive which I second guessed myself a little bit there. We had to score touchdowns on offense when we had the chance and we didn’t.”

The Cougars quickly answered the Young touchdown run with a quick drive of their own, spanning four plays that was capped off with quarterback Zach Wilson finding Talon Shumway for a four-yard touchdown.

After both defenses began to get stops, BYU got back on the board with 1:50 remaining in the half, as Wilson hit Shumway on a slant and the redshirt junior went 15 yards untouched into the end zone to give the Cougars their first lead of the game.

On the ensuing possession, Ross Comis ran a well executed two-minute drill, using eight plays to take the Minutemen into field goal range, but Cooper Garcia blanked a 36-yard attempt as the clock hit zero for the half.

“I felt a lot of air went out of us when we missed the field goal right going into the half,” Whipple said. “We did a nice job on the two-minute drive. It might have given us a little bit of momentum.”

UMass would end up punting on five of its six offensive possessions in the second half, with the final drive going for a touchdown against the Cougars second-stringers.

For Comis, he felt the lack of offense came down to execution, while also giving credit to a stout BYU defense.

“We left some plays out on the field,” Comis said. “Their defense is good, they’re sound, those guys are older over there, they know what they’re doing and are well coached and they’re always in the right spot. We did leave some plays out on the field that we feel we should have made. It kind of turned the tide that we didn’t make those plays and put the pressure on the defense.”

With the UMass offense unable to stay on the field, the Cougar offense was able to capitalize on a worn out Minutemen defense, rushing for 221 yards and three touchdowns on the game. BYU was also able to control the clock, having possession for over 18 minutes in the second half.

“Defense, we left some plays out on the field too,” linebacker Bryton Barr said. “Obviously, they put 35 points up on us. We got a little frustrated out there but the first half I thought we played well but the second half we came out flat. A little disappointing but we still have one more game left so we have to put it in the past and look forward to next week.”

UMass is back in action next week, taking on No. 5 Georgia in the season finale.

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

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