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

Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams starts UMass off on the right foot against Toledo

The redshirt junior boosts first-half morale for the Minutemen
Devin Lippman

Coming off its fifth loss in a row, the Massachusetts football team had one overarching goal heading into its matchup against the University of Toledo: Start off on the right foot. Running back Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams took this goal into his own hands, paving the way for the Minutemen (1-6) to close out Saturday afternoon’s first half on a high note.

In the past five games, UMass has struggled to find offensive rhythm on the field. While coping with quarterback injuries that halted the offense, the overall morale was low and the lack of energy off the bat was evident on the scoreboard.

Against Auburn, the Minutemen only put up seven points in the first quarter and did not see any more success until the fourth quarter. The matchups against Miami of Ohio and Eastern Michigan were similar first-half stories, slotting in a mere seven and three points in the second quarters respectively. Though the offense found more success against the University of New Mexico and Arkansas State in the second quarters, the first quarters remained scoreless.

Saturday was a different story.

Lynch-Adams hopped on the opportunity to put UMass ahead on its first drive. To convert on third down, the running back took a hand-off from quarterback Taisun Phommachanh and powered through for a 32-yard gain. This brought the Minutemen into Toledo (5-1, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) territory, and sparked hope along the UMass sideline. After a short gain of a couple of yards and Anthony Simpson’s inability to break through the Rockets tacklers, Lynch-Adams took the offense into his own hands again. The redshirt junior took the hand-off and broke through into the open field, rushing the football into the endzone for the first score of the game.

On this drive alone, Lynch-Adams added 81 rushing yards to his resume.

This early start, hitting the ground running, is what head coach Don Brown was focusing on heading into the Toledo matchup. Rather than play catch-up in the second half, Brown wanted his team to take control of its home field and have the scoreboard reflect that. On Saturday, the Minutemen headed into the locker room at halftime with a 21-17 lead – their first halftime lead of the season.

“They showed up early as a football team… they were all ready to go, they gave us everything they had,” Brown said about his team.

The drive that solidified this lead was powered by the running back. Opening up this scoring drive, Lynch-Adams moved the offense closer to mid-field on a 13-yard carry. Further down the field to put Phommachanh in a comfortable position to complete a touchdown pass to Greg Desrosiers Jr., the redshirt junior took his rush up the middle and swerved left to extend the run for 17 yards and a first down.

After being relied on play after play and not finding success beyond a few yards for the Minutemen early in the season, Lynch-Adams finally found his rhythm breaking tackles and launching off after the hand-off. Feeling the momentum, the UMass sideline jumped with excitement from Lynch-Adams’ breakout runs. This power behind the quarterback also allowed the offense to stay collected and energized in the first half. Simpson and Desrosiers fed off this energy and slotted in the other two touchdowns of the first half.

“That was our whole theme going in [to Saturday],” Brown said. “‘Show up early, stay late’… And the players were saying [that] on the sidelines.”

Despite falling to the Rockets, 41-24, Lynch-Adams set the tone for a competitive game on Saturday to close out the three-game home series for the Minutemen. The running back clocked out on Oct. 7 with 157 net rushing yards, his career high.

UMass hits the road for its matchup against Penn State on Saturday, Oct. 14. Kickoff on the Beaver Stadium field is set for 3:30 p.m. The game will be streamed on BTN.

“[Our players] are doing things they’re being asked of,” Brown said.  “There’s no quit, there’s no lack of effort, there’s none of those things.”

Sydney Ciano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SydneyCiano.

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