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 falls 42-24 against Liberty

UMass strikes first blood but loses the battle
Shilpa Sweth / Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts football team couldn’t muster enough offense to match the potent Liberty aerial attack on a day when its top receiver and top two running backs were sidelined with injuries.

The Minutemen (1-5) did have one of their best passing performances of the season in the first half, with Garrett Dzuro getting the start at quarterback, and finishing with a QBR of 171.0 in the first half before leaving with an injury.

“Dzuro, I thought, did a good job when he was in there,” said UMass head coach Don Brown. “He was rewarded for his last two weeks of practice. This is a guy who proved he deserved another opportunity.”

UMass struck first with a 53-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman Greg Desrosiers Jr., his longest of the season. Desrosiers Jr. had both of Massachusetts’ offensive touchdowns, with his second coming late in the fourth quarter. Desrosiers Jr. had 76 percent of the Minutemen’s total yards on the ground, finishing with 110 yards.

The Flames (5-1) wouldn’t trail for long, outscoring UMass 42-17 after the Minutemen’s initial touchdown. Liberty’s offense turned up the heat, and the defense revved up its intensity as well. UMass had 158 total yards in the first half but was held to 75 in the second half. Penalties on the offensive side of the football, including two before the game clock began officially running, did the Minutemen no favors. The went on to finish the game with nine penalties.

“Now we’ve got to have more consistency as a unit,” Brown said. “We’ve got to be much more consistent in each phase: offensively, defensively, and kicking game.”

The Minutemen regressed back to their traditional style of ground and pound offense in the second half, after a few successful drives that featured a mixture of passing and running. UMass seemed to back itself into a play-calling corner after the injury to Dzuro late in the second quarter.

The Massachusetts defense appeared sluggish in the second half, continuing the trend that was seen in its previous contest against Eastern Michigan. Cornerback Jordan Mahoney, who allowed a huge play in the second quarter, paid off his debt after recovering a fumble for a touchdown to give the Minutemen hope early in the fourth quarter. Subsequent scores by Liberty would render that return ineffective, as it made no difference in the final score of the game.

The punting unit showed improvement for the third consecutive week. Sophomore CJ Kolodziey punted from his own end zone on multiple occasions but gave the defense enough room to work with. His punts traveled an average of around 40 yards, with the highest hang-times of the season so far. However, the Minutemen offense found themselves deep into their own territory almost every drive.

“The field position piece is tough to overcome. When you’re giving your guys so many short fields to deal with from a defensive perspective,” Brown said.

The Massachusetts football team falls to 1-5, plummeting to the bottom of the FBS. Losing three games in a row, the Minutemen schedule seems daunting heading into the later end of the season. Facing schools like Texas A&M and Buffalo, getting another win might be difficult.

UMass is back in action on Saturday, Oct.15 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium against Buffalo. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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

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