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

Greg Desrosiers Jr. rushes UMass to a 31-21 victory over Merrimack

The running back totals three touchdowns and 162 rushing yards
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

On Saturday evening, Greg Desrosiers Jr. carried the offense in the Massachusetts football team’s 31-21 victory over Merrimack. The redshirt sophomore running back closed his evening with three touchdowns.

Desrosiers Jr. came into the battle against Merrimack (4-5, 3-2 North East Conference) with 123 total rushing yards combined in the 2023 season. He surpassed this on Saturday with 10 attempts for 162 net rushing yards, his career high.

“In the second half, we ran [the ball] at will,” head coach Don Brown said. “[Desrosiers Jr.] kind of gave us the little bit of a lightning strike … it seemed like every time he was touching the ball it was a multiple yard [gain].”

Despite a stagnant second half, he was determined to extend UMass’ (3-7) lead as he stepped onto the fourth quarter field. Desrosiers Jr.’s second touchdown of the night was set up on a second-and-seven scenario to open up the Minutemen’s continued drive in the fourth quarter. The running back cradled the football from Taisun Phommachanh and found an opening along the left edge of the field. Desrosiers Jr. took off, escaping a trip from Merrimack’s Donte Williams. The 57-yard rushing touchdown was secured with his double arm extension to reach the football over the pylons before tumbling to the ground.

Desrosiers Jr.’s fourth quarter dominance did not end there. With 8:10 left in regulation, he found another breakaway taking the rush up the middle. After breaking through the mass, Desrosiers Jr. kept the fire under him as he escaped three Warriors on his heels. As Merrimack lost steam, the running back paved the way for UMass’ final score, bringing the point total to 31.

“Three touchdowns, that’s a solid effort,” Brown said. “I’m happy with the way he went about his business … I thought he had a breakout game [on Saturday].”

Coming off a win against Army, Saturday evening’s contest was important to the running back in different ways. The Lawrence, Mass. native grew up with the Merrimack team as well as its head coach Dan Curran. When playing at Central Catholic High School, Curran was Desrosiers Jr.’s strength trainer.

“I knew [the game] would kind of be a rivalry,” Desrosiers Jr. said. “I kind of knew what [Merrimack was] about based off [Curran] being coach. Going into [Saturday] I definitely wanted to do as well as possible.”

Desrosiers Jr.’s success began early in the evening with 3:02 left on the second quarter clock. The running back found his way around the middle of the pack following the snap. Analyzing his options on the field, Desrosiers Jr. veered right and tumbled into the endzone after battling the swarm of Warriors for the eight-yard gain. The running back broke the 7-7 tie and the extra point solidified a seven-point lead heading into the second half.

His breakways were largely due to the effort of the offensive line, giving him time to scan his options down the field and choose the right route to take.

“I [have] to give props to the [offensive] line,” Desrosiers Jr. said. “I did what I could do, but [the offensive line] started it for me.”

Coming off of its second consecutive win, UMass will head into its second bye week of the season. On Saturday, Nov. 18, the Minutemen will take the road and face Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Kickoff against the Flames is set for 1 p.m.

“All gas no breaks,” Desrosiers Jr. said.

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

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