Confidence and control drives UMass football to its first win

Minutemen defeat Stony Brook 20-3, earn their first win of the season

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Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

Following two consecutive blowout losses, the Massachusetts football team found itself with a less than impressive start to its season. As disappointing as those weeks were for Don Brown and his program, the UMass (1-2) coach left a simple message: wipe the slate.

The Minutemen did exactly that. They didn’t let the slow start get them down and walked into McGuirk Alumni Stadium with confidence. They walked out of the stadium a few hours later with a 20-3 win over Stony Brook, their first win of the season.

“It feels good, we’ve been putting in the work for a long time, so it was good to see that work paying off,” Minutemen wide receiver Cameron-Sullivan Brown said of the win.

Brown’s game plan going into the day reflected the feeling that UMass was the better of the two teams. The offense ran a fast tempo, often going no-huddle and controlling the pace of the game from the first snap. Gino Campiotti and the Minutemen executed that plan well and scored on the opening drive of the game.

All UMass needed was a lead. The crowd’s energy heightened; the confidence reinforced up-and-down the sideline. Once they had that lead, the Minutemen never lost it.

The defense flew around the field making plays all over, the offense showed explosion even if it didn’t lead to points, and the more things UMass did right, the louder the home crowd got.

“It felt like home,” Sullivan-Brown said of the environment at McGuirk. “It felt very comfortable, we practice on this field so we’re super comfortable here and we got that support, so that’s exactly what we need.”

The Minutemen’s crowd was lively throughout the game, but the key moments were when they really came to life. When Campiotti stepped up to the line on a fourth and 11 and made a perfect throw to pick up the first down, fans were out of their seats. Josh Wallace’s interception of a wide receiver screen praise also earned a loud roar from the Minutemen faithful.

However, there was no louder moment than Jordan Mahoney’s interception. The sophomore returned the pick 94 yards for a momentum shifting touchdown.

“It was electric,” Mahoney said. “This is my sophomore year, I’m still young, it’s just electrifying.”

The Minutemen executed on game day but the foundation for Saturday’s win was being laid the moment they lost to Toledo. One week of practice shifted the mental aspects of the game in a positive direction.

“There was some biting going on this week, little bites,” Brown said. “That means when they turn around you give them a bite right on the butt, and we did a little of that. But, at the same time, we trusted the players, we gave them a good game plan … but it really comes down to the players executing the plan and I thought we did a better job of that.”

Whatever Brown and his staff did in preparation, it showed up against Stony Brook. UMass didn’t play mistake free football, and there’s still a long way to go before they can turn their program around. But Saturday showed more potential. Not only did the Minutemen win, they won confidently and wiped the slate clean from the first two weeks.

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.