Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutemen defense silences Seawolves in home opener

Don Brown’s defense is back
Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts football team put on a defensive clinic against Stony Brook in its first home win of the season. On a picture-perfect September day to play college football, the Minutemen stopped all Seawolf efforts at significant yardage.

Heading into their third game, UMass suffered a combined 77-point differential against their previous two opponents, and it wanted to improve its defensive game plan heading into Saturday’s game. Ending the game giving up only three points, the Minutemen defense left fans at McGuirk Stadium satisfied.

Upon first glance, the 150 total yards amassed in the first half by Stony Brook would seem daunting for the home team. Fortunately, the first half proved fruitful for the Massachusetts secondary, who put on a show. They made it difficult for Stony Brook starting quarterback Daron Bryden to find any success pushing the ball down the field in the air.

Along with their clutch plays on third down conversion attempts, the Minutemen secondary swung momentum heavily in its favor with two timely interceptions.

The first interception came on their own six-yard line, in the red zone on third down. Bryden dropped back to pass, and threw a ball into double coverage close to the goal line. Unbeknownst to him, UMass cornerback Jordan Mahoney was tracking him the whole time. His eyes lit up, and jumped the route. He picked it off, and returned it for a 94-yard touchdown.

“People have been telling me all week ‘Oh you gotta get one’. And I did. I took it to the house,” Mahoney said. “Looking around, seeing all my brothers behind me, I was cool.”

The second interception occurred on the next Seawolf drive. UMass seemed out of sorts on a fresh first and 10 on their 40-yard line, as Stony Brook rushed a screen play to the far side line. Miraculously, cornerback Josh Wallace jumped the screen and made a tough catch falling to the ground, crushing any hopes of a first half comeback by the visiting team.

“One that you don’t see very often is the screen pass interception,” UMass head coach Don Brown said. “I was shocked. I’m going ‘wow that don’t happen every day’. That was a great read on his [Wallace’s] part.”

Coming out of the locker room for the second half, the Minutemen seemed lively and pumped up. They picked up right where they left off, silencing the Seawolves’ offense for the rest of the game. Allowing zero points, and no red zone appearances, the UMass defense continued to shine for the hometown faithful. “I just thought we were on it,” Brown said.

By the end of the game, the secondary had locked down Stony Brook’s passing game through and through. They gave up 206 yards through the air, but only three points on the scoreboard. They stepped up in pressure situations, especially on third down.

Stony Brook found some success early in their drives, but ran into a Minuteman wall on third downs. Stopping 10 out of 14 third down tries, they proved too overwhelming for the Seawolves.

“When you’re 7 for 12 on third down, 7 for 14, that’s not very good,” Brown said. “When you’re 3-for-15, those are the kinds of efforts that you’re looking for.”

UMass heads to Philadelphia to take on Temple on ESPN+. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

Judah Katz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @judah_katz.

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