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 football notches second win of season for first time in five years

Minutemen defeat Army 21-14
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts football team secured the program’s first-ever victory over Army on Saturday, knocking off the Black Knights (2-6) 21-14. For UMass (2-7), the win represented one of the team’s best performances of the season, along with a second win that had eluded the program for five years.

“I’m just happy with the way the guys competed,” head coach Don Brown said postgame. “We used the bye week the right way, and it was to really adjust our gameplan style to the new Army. Because if you don’t, they’re going to present you [with] some major problems.”

The game began with an efficient drive from UMass, one that went 75 yards in nine plays and ended with a 34-yard Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams touchdown. That opening drive represented just a taste of the Minutemen’s ground game, which delivered one of the strongest performances of any unit all season. That unit was one man, Lynch-Adams, who ran for 234 of the team’s 231 rushing yards (the other Minutemen combined for -3 yards).

Due to injury, Army started Champ Harris at quarterback, and the freshman came out firing with a 43-yard pass on the Black Knights’ first play from scrimmage. Harris only saw limited playing time, however, as incumbent starter Bryson Daily came in midway through the second. Daily had a down day in the passing game, making some questionable throws that made Army worse for wear.

One of Daily’s worst mistakes came towards the end of the third, in the midst of an Army drive that was advancing toward the end zone. With the Black Knights facing a fourth-and-two from the UMass seven, head coach Jeff Monken opted to go with a pass play as opposed to a rush. With the pocket closing in, Daily threw a jump ball into the end zone where Juan Lua was waiting to secure his second interception of the season for UMass.

The junior signal caller finished 3-of-13 for 28 yards and two interceptions, with his other pick giving Minutemen defensive back Jeremiah McGill his first career takeaway. Daily also added 11 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown.

Despite facing a multi-score deficit with a few minutes remaining, Army kept the contest interesting until the very end. With just over five minutes to play, Harris came back in at quarterback and led the Black Knights on a five-play, 83-yard drive that took just 90 seconds off the clock. Despite the defense’s best efforts, Lynch-Adams would not be denied, and the running back converted multiple first downs in the closing minutes to seal the game.

For the Minutemen, Taisun Phommachanh continued to put in gutsy performances in the wake of his early-season injury. The junior took some hard hits but continued to stand tall in the pocket and hit his receivers, finishing 17-of-23 for 121 yards.

The wind coming off Lusk Reservoir seemed to impact kicks all day. Between Army’s sophomore kicker Quinn Maretzki and UMass’ Cameron Carson, attempts at field goals and extra points went 3-of-7. Carson missed an extra point, a 41-yard attempt and a 53-yard attempt while Maretzki missed a 49-yarder midway through the first.

This win means that UMass has won multiple road games in a season for the first time since 2015. Next up for the Minutemen: in-state opponent Merrimack. The two sides will meet for the first time on Nov. 4 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN+.

“I think this [win] will catapult us and we won’t look back,” Brown said.

“This [second win] has haunted us. It’s gone. And I couldn’t be happier.”

Dean Wendel can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @DeanWende1. 

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  • J

    Jim WendelOct 29, 2023 at 9:26 am

    Great article. Great game to watch.