UMass football: Eastern Michigan scores late touchdown to defeat Minutemen, 19-17

  • UMass' Nahji Logan puts pressure on Eastern Michigan quarterback Austin Smith on Saturday at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, MI. UMASS ATHLETICS/CHRIS TUCCI

  • UMass quarterback Carlos Davis throws a pass against Eastern Michigan on Saturday at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, MI. UMASS ATHLETICS/CHRIS TUCCI

  • UMass' Greg Desrosiers manages to haul in a pass with an Eastern Michigan defender draped over him during the fourth on Saturday at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, MI. UMASS ATHLETICS/CHRIS TUCCI

  • A swarm of UMass defenders tackle Eastern Michigan running back Samson Evans on Saturday at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti, MI. UMASS ATHLETICS/CHRIS TUCCI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/16/2023 6:12:48 PM

Through three and a half quarters the UMass football team and Eastern Michigan were locked in a defensive battle. 

That’s when both offenses came to life. 

UMass, which had turned the ball over four times in the game, marched down the field and punched in a go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 to play, giving it a 17-13 lead. The Minutemen defense, which came up with big stops throughout the game, wasn’t able to get the one it needed late, as the Eagles responded with a touchdown drive of their own, capped off with a 50-yard touchdown pass with 1:20 to play. 

UMass didn’t pick up a first down on it’s final drive and Eastern Michigan was able to run out the clock to defeat the Minutemen, 19-17 in Ypsilanti, Mich. on Saturday. 

“It’s disappointing,” UMass coach Don Brown said. “I love the way we came back, competed and played as a football team. From midway through the second the rest of the way, we had a third quarter shutout. The only thing we have to do better is take care of the football. That’s a difficult pill to swallow for sure.

“When you look at the effort, how hard they worked, you feel good,” Brown continued, “but I’m tired of talking about those kinds of things. I’d rather be talking about wins.” 

The game was tied 10-10 going into the final 15 minutes of action when the Eagles kicked a field goal with 14:06 to play to take the lead. The Minutemen punted and threw an interception on their ensuing two possessions but their defense forced a pair of Eastern Michigan punts, giving the UMass offense a shot to take the lead with 4:49 to play. 

It did just that. The Minutemen went on a four-play, 85 yard drive that was propelled by a 40-yard juggling catch by Greg Desrosiers that set UMass up at the Eagles 8. Kay’Ron Adams-Lynch ran in a toss untouched on the next play to give the Minutemen a 17-13 lead with 2:42 to play. 

Then it was Eastern Michigan’s turn to answer. The Eagles went on a five-play, 77 yard drive in just one minute, 17 seconds that resulted in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Austin Smith to Hamze El-Zayat, with EMU missing the extra point. 

“We had a major coverage gaffe between two players who were doubling a receiver and obviously that led to the go-ahead score at the end,” Brown said. “We had a chance to get the quarterback on the perimeter but didn’t.” 

It was the UMass defense that kept it in the game throughout. The Minutemen survived three turnovers on their opening three drives — two interceptions and one fumble — while the UMass defense forced eight punts throughout the game while holding the Eagles to just 157 yards through the air. 

Eastern Michigan got on the scoreboard first, with Jesus Gomez making a 40-yard field goal with 2:31 to go in the first quarter. 

The Eagles — which were able to break off a number of long runs throughout the game and finished the game with 214 yards on the ground — scored the first touchdown of the game when Jaylon Jackson burst through the middle for a 55-yard touchdown run with 11:12 to play in the first half that game EMU a 10-0 lead. 

The Eagles broke off another long run on their ensuing possession when Samson Evans broke free down the sideline for what looked to be a 61-yard touchdown run. Minuteman linebacker Gerrell Johnson hustled down and forced a fumble out of the end zone before the ball broke the plane for a touchback, giving UMass the ball back and keeping it a 10-point game. 

The Minutemen got the ball back with 2:09 to go in the half and went on an eight play, 53 yard drive which ended in Cameron Carson 48-yard field goal with 16 ticks left in the half to cut the lead to 10-3 at the break. 

UMass knotted the scoring midway through the third quarter. Carlos Davis, starting for an injured Taisun Phommachanh, led the Minutemen down the field and hooked up with Gino Campiotti for a 13-yard score that tied the game at 10 with 5:19 to play in the third. 

“You go into the half, it’s 10-3 and you’ve survived three turnovers,” Brown said. “We score in the third quarter, score in the fourth quarter and give up the long touchdown [to El-Zayat]. I thought we had him on the perimeter but we didn’t. That’s the difference in the ball game and it’s a play you hope you can make.” 

It was a mixed bag from Davis on Saturday. The Western Carolina transfer finished with 340 yards through the air, but also recorded three interceptions. The third pick came with 7:18 to go while UMass had the ball on the Eagles eight yard line. 

“I like Carlos,” Brown said. “He can be the quarterback of our team any time. [He was] 23-for-41, that’s good. The three turnovers not so much. That was difficult. I think he played well when he had to. When we had a chance to win the game he played his best. I don’t know what else you can say about that.” 

Anthony Simpson was Davis’ top target, gaining 101 yards on four catches. Lynch-Adams ran for 138 yards and the touchdown run in the loss. 

Next up for the Minutemen is a showdown against New Mexico at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst. That game will kick off next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. 


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