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

UMass loses to Buffalo 34-7 on Family Weekend

Minutemen struggle to find footing on both sides of the ball
Shilpa Sweth/ Daily Collegian (2022)

The Massachusetts football team stood no chance against the potent Buffalo offense in its sixth loss of the year on Saturday. UMass (1-6) entered the red zone just one time, unable to amass significant yardage on the day.

The Bulls (4-3, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) kept their foot on the gas, scoring 34 points with 507 total yards. Saturday’s blowout loss encapsulated the struggles for the Minutemen throughout the 2022 season, with lackluster offense production and porous defense.

The Bulls wreaked havoc on UMass from the opening play, especially on defense. They rushed only four against the Minutemen offensive line but were able to clog the middle of the field. Buffalo knew UMass would try to manage the clock by running different ground packages and capitalized off repetitive play-calling from its opposing offense.

The Minutemen managed only 128 total yards in the first half, with 56 of those on the ground. Through seven weeks this season, they rely heavily on their run game to move the chains. That strategy has backed them into a corner on offense, and Buffalo knew heading into their matchup to cover the run almost entirely. UMass’ rushing woes culminated in negative yardage in the first quarter, on 10 attempts.

The only real success the Minutemen found in the first half came from their passing plays, scraping together 72 yards on nine attempts. Starting quarterback Garrett Dzuro showed flashes of competency on a few throws downfield, helped by a pair of spectacular catches by wide receiver George Johnson III. Dzuro finished the game 7-14 on pass attempts, completing 50% of his passes, with a total of 99 yards.

Buffalo scored 24 points in the first half, with four successful scoring drives. It broke the game open on an 84-yard touchdown run by Al-Jay Henderson, who blazed through UMass’ defensive front and burned past its secondary en route to a 17-point lead early in the second quarter.

“The killer [Saturday] is we gave up an 84-yard run and he ends up with 15 yards the rest of the day,” UMass head coach Don Brown said. “It’s a killer when it happens.”

The Minutemen scored their only points of the game with about eight minutes to play in the second quarter with a 10 play, 75-yard drive. Veteran running back Ellis Merriweather capped off the effort with a five-yard run up the gut to cut the lead to 10 points, the closest the game remained the rest of the afternoon.

UMass couldn’t stop the bleeding heading into the second half. Buffalo continued to pile on with another touchdown in the third quarter, on a 49-yard grab by Justin Marshall to extend the lead 24-7. It never relinquished control, adding on another 10 points, shutting down the Minutemen’s hopes for a comeback. The final score read 34-7.

Throughout the entire game, UMass couldn’t convert on third down, crucial to maintaining palpable scoring drives. Going 4-14, punter CJ Kolodziey found himself very active today, punting nine times for 331 yards.

One bright spot for the Minutemen came from running back Kay’Ron Adams, who totaled 65 yards on 11 attempts. Rushing for just under six yards per carry, Adams provided a lift for his offense, who couldn’t find much success in other places.

UMass falls to 1-6 on the year, bringing up the rear of the FBS standings. It is also on a four-game losing streak, heading into its bye week. For Coach Brown, the nosedive this season isn’t alarming.

“You’re never as good as you think you are, and you’re never as bad. I think we’re closer to going in the right direction. I like my guys,” Brown said.

UMass will take on New Mexico State on Saturday, October 29 at 3:30 p.m.

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

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