Massachusetts football wins home opener against Stony Brook, 20-3

Minutemen record over 100 yards in the air for first time this season


Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Johnny Depin, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts football team won its first game of the season on Saturday afternoon, defeating Stony Brook 20-3. The Minutemen (1-2) showed a different style of offense in their home opener, relying more on the passing game than had been seen up until this point. UMass totaled 65 yards in the air over its first two games this season, a mark that was broken in the first half as it recorded 77 passing yards. The Minutemen finished with 105 yards in the air.

The story of the game on the offensive side of the football was the efficiency of Gino Campiotti, completing 66.7 percent of his passes along with a touchdown, in addition to 72 yards rushing. He finished with a QBR of 125.7, by far the highest for any UMass quarterback this season.

“I thought [Campiotti], I mean we gave him a couple of drops which was good, because now there’s something I can get on the receivers about,” head coach Don Brown said. “We left three plays where if we make those plays, we separate ourselves even more. [Campiotti] has taken a little bit of criticism, I thought his performance today was a notch above everything else he has done.”

Special teams were once again a bit of a struggle for the Minutemen, as punts averaged 11.5 yards in the first half. Punting noticeably improved in the second half, where the average yardage was upped to 40.75 yards. It was night and day between the two halves, as the second half on Saturday was the best performance that has been seen from the punting unit so far in the young season.

Penalties were also an improved area of play for UMass on Saturday, as it was flagged for three penalties totaling for 15 yards. This is a radical improvement from the Minutemen’s two previous games, where they were flagged for seven and 14 penalties, respectively. Saturday’s game was the first instance where an opponent was flagged for more penalties.

“After the first two weeks, everything kind of gets challenged, looking at what we were doing offensively, looking at what we were doing defensively, looking at the kicking game,” Brown said. “The old adage comes through: ‘you’re never as good as you think you are, and you’re never as bad as you think you are.’ Just keep working, grind away and find things that guys can do better.”

In the second quarter the UMass offense found itself pinned deep inside its own territory; a 10 yard punt gave the Seawolves (0-2) pristine field position at the Minutemen’s 22. UMass flipped the switch on defense when Jordan Mahoney jumped a route for the interception and brought it all the way back for 94 yards, giving it a two score lead for the first time this season.

This would be the last touchdown of the day for the Minutemen, as both them and Stony Brook were held to field goals and punts for the rest of the afternoon. This was a byproduct of the style of offense that UMass played in the second half, as it played a conservative, ground and pound style with a two score lead.

This was seen in the Minutemen’s second half yardage, gaining 87 yards compared to 177 yards in the first half. Over 75 percent of Massachusetts’ second half yardage was gained on the ground, with running back Ellis Merriweather gaining 43 of his 77 yards in the second half.

“I thought all those guys did well, the offensive line functioned really well,” Brown said. “[Merriweather], the first two games, he was a little bit of an enigma, not today. I thought he showed what he is capable of, but it’s nice that we have a number of running backs that we can go to, and you know that you’re going to get a division one effort.”

UMass will look to continue its success next Saturday, September 24 against Temple University. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m.

“It’s nice to see them get the monkey off and now we can focus,” Brown said. “Our whole thing was win [Saturday] and then go to Temple, get our second win, and be 2-2 at the end of September. That’s the goal.”

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jdepin101.