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 drops homecoming game 23-13 to New Mexico State

Minutemen score one touchdown in the game
Daily Collegian/ Sophie-Zoe Schreyer

The New Mexico State Aggies spoiled homecoming weekend for the Massachusetts football team with a 23-13 victory, with UMass (1-7) failing to score a single point after the second quarter. Falling to 1-7, UMass hit rock bottom of the FBS. The Aggies (3-5) scored 13 unanswered points in the second half to bury the Minutemen, allowing just 85 total offensive yards in the second half.

The Minutemen stuck to their guns to start the game, running the ball almost entirely. Both teams struggled mightily to move the chains in the first half, especially through the air. Scraping together 39 passing yards in two quarters, UMass retreated into their 1960’s-style ground and pound. New Mexico State forced them to punt four times before halftime, completing one third down conversion on seven attempts.

UMass put together two fruitful drives in the first half, including a 66-yard touchdown run by Kay’Ron Adams that put the home team up 10 approaching the break. The Aggies responded with 10 quick points of their own, highlighted by a 39-yard touchdown grab by Jamoni Jones on a bomb from quarterback Diego Pavia. Leading by three heading into halftime, the Minutemen looked poised to pick up their second win of the season.

UMass devolved in the third quarter, gaining 23 yards of total offense. It committed three penalties, giving up 45 yards from flags alone. The Aggies felt the swing in momentum and capitalized. For the rest of the game, they dominated both sides of the ball. They scored 13 points, simultaneously stopping the Minutemen dead in their tracks. UMass could only manage 85 yards of offense in the second half, which quieted the crowd and ignited the visiting team.

New Mexico State’s second quarterback of the night, Pavia, made an impact in the second half, using his legs and his arm to provide his offense with a more diverse repertoire.

“That was probably the difference in the ballgame was they made the change to him,” said UMass head coach Don Brown. “He got the hot hand. He made three throws that were really exceptional.”

The Minutemen failed to mount any semblance of a comeback after falling behind, due to the increased focus on starting quarterback Brady Olson. The Aggies brought pressure with four defensive linemen and forced him to make tough throws into the secondary. This strategy proved effective, limiting Olson to just 7/15 on passing attempts for 58 yards. New Mexico State continued to plug up holes on defense and stopped any hopes of a storybook ending. The final score read 23-13.

 A recurring theme for the Minutemen all season has been their lack of creative play-calling, with almost no play-action or under-center passing attempts. UMass offensive coordinator Steve Casula has eliminated large chunks of the possible throwing packages and has stuck to draws and misdirect quarterback keepers. Against New Mexico State, the Minutemen averaged just over four yards per play, which speaks to their inability to push the football downfield.

One bright spot for the Minutemen was their third down defense. They held the Aggies to zero third down conversions, on 12 attempts.

“We did a good job in that area,” Brown said.

UMass heads to Connecticut to take on the Huskies on Friday, Nov. 4. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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

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