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

No. 6 Penn State steamrolls UMass 63-0

Minutemen allow over 40 points for third consecutive game
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

Thoroughly outplayed for over three hours, the Massachusetts football team left a rainy Happy Valley after a 63-0 shutout loss to No. 6 Penn State on Saturday.

For a second it looked like UMass (1-7) would show some fight. The Minutemen recovered a forced fumble in the opening possession, couldn’t score, but then got a second straight stop on defense. The home crowd started booing the Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten).

But all momentum drastically shifted when Daequan Hardy returned a punt 56 yards for a touchdown to open the scoring, and Penn State wouldn’t let off the gas from there. In the third quarter, Hardy returned another punt for a score, this time 68 yards.

“I thought we got off to a decent foot,” head coach Don Brown said. “And you know, it just seemed like the wind came out of our sails on the punt return [for a touchdown]. And we just never really got going again. But you know, you’ve had that, and we had another punt return [touchdown]. I mean, those two will kill you when you’re trying to … just compete in that kind of a football game.”

Coming in as the No. 1 passing defense in the country, the hosts suffocated the Minutemen all game long, sacking Taisun Phommachanh seven times and limiting the UMass offense to 109 total yards. They had three players finish with two or more sacks, as the Minutemen averaged 1.8 yards per play.

Phommachanh completed 6-of-14 passes for 25 yards in three quarters and looked far from healthy. UMass put true freshman quarterback Ahmad Haston in the game with five minutes left in the third, and he went 3-for-9 for 20 yards and an interception. The two offensive stars for the Minutemen, running back Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams and wide receiver Anthony Simpson both got neutralized.

“Their defense is legit, they’re legit, and after seeing them in person, that’s a good defensive team, you know what I mean?” Brown said. “And I’ve played them, what, four times? That’s the best defense I’ve seen here. And I think [Penn State head coach James Franklin is doing] a good job weaving it together.”

“The good thing about coaching is you don’t make the schedule, you just play the schedule,” Brown said.

The Nittany Lions came into the game with their eyes set on a matchup against No. 3 Ohio State next weekend, but after the first two drives they got it together and didn’t miss a beat. The Minutemen, on the other hand, go into a bye week after a tough loss.

“I’ll be honest, our health wasn’t good going in,” Brown said. “And you know, the only good thing is I don’t think we got anything major out of this particular game, so I think we’ll be able to utilize the bye week. Be smart. Back in practice. Kind of get the guys —got to get them right.”

Penn State quarterback Drew Allar completed 16-of-23 passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns and picked up a rushing score on the day as well. Tight end Theo Johnson caught two touchdowns and the Nittany Lions’ running back room combined for three scores.

Overall, Penn State notched 408 yards of offense, including 246 on the ground, and scored more points (63) than UMass ran total plays (62). The team is red-hot on all departments heading into the big game.

“And by the way, I don’t say, ‘coordinators and coaches and all that,’ so it’s on me,” Brown said. “I’ve got to fix it. It’s not their fault. [It’s on me,] I got to fix it. And obviously Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m not afraid to work.”

The Minutemen have a bye week before heading to West Point, N.Y. to face Army on Oct. 28. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m.

Pedro Gray Soares can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @P_GraySoares.

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