UMass football rolling into battle with BYU

Minutemen have won two in a row


(Maxwell Zaleski/Graphics/Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

After an emotional come from behind win in triple overtime against Liberty last Saturday, the Massachusetts football team will look to continue its winning ways against Brigham Young this weekend at Gillette Stadium.

UMass (4-6) narrowly edged the Flames 62-59 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium a week ago winning its second straight, and hope to carry that momentum into its contest against the Cougars (4-5).

“They’re strong and physical and a lot of guys played a lot of football for them,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said. “They play hard and got a really, really good team. They’re a really, really talented group and mature so we got a huge test ahead of us.”

Two Minutemen enter the match up after monster games versus Liberty. Senior wide receiver Andy Isabella set the program record for receiving yards in a game with 303 and senior quarterback Ross Comis threw for 540 yards—second in UMass history behind Blake Frohnapfel’s 589 passing yards opposite Bowling Green in 2014 — as well as tossing four touchdown passes and an interception.

“We’re [in] pretty high spirits, a lot of momentum coming off two wins in a row,” Comis said. “We’re pretty excited but it’s kind of just a thing where we have to go onto the next one. [We have] short term memory with wins and losses because we got a big one this week.”

The Minutemen trailed the Flames on three separate occasions over the course of the outing but came back each time before Cooper Garcia sealed the victory with his game-winning field goal.

That resiliency to fight back and perhaps win a game it wasn’t expected to is a positive sign for this UMass team, especially this late in the season.

“Over the years we’ve been unable to come back and finish those games,” Comis said. “I feel like over the last two weeks, both games being us trailing and getting some drives together and taking a lead and our defense making the plays when we needed to, that’s a big step in the right direction.”

“They’ve fought hard,” Whipple added. “We were due to get some bounces and guys just changed some things and [they] stayed together, which was really important, and fought for one another and came out on the right end.”

BYU are losers of consecutive games ahead of the battle of the independents this weekend. Most recently, the Cougars fell to Boise State, 21-16, after losing 7-6 to Northern Illinois a week prior.

Quarterback Zach Wilson has started the last three games under-center for BYU, throwing for 718 yards, four touchdowns and two picks in five total games in 2018.

Squally Canada and Lopini Katoa make up the Cougar’s one-two punch in the backfield. The pair of running backs have combined for more than 600 rushing yards on the season and have nine touchdowns between them.

On the defensive end, linebacker Sione Takitaki leads BYU with 68 total tackles while defensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi is top-20 in the country in sacks with 7.5.

“We’re excited for the task,” Comis said. “We know that they got a good defense, a new quarterback, so we’re excited.”

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