Chanticleers respond, derail Minutemen

  • UMasss’ Adam Breneman makes a reception against Hawaii last week. The versatile tight end suffered a leg injury that didn’t look good in Saturday’s loss to Coastal Carolina. ap file photo

For The Recorder
Sunday, September 03, 2017

CONWAY, S.C. — When UMass came out of halftime and cruised down the field for the game-tying touchdown, it looked like the start of something good for the Minutemen.

It turned out to be a high point of another tough night.

Coastal Carolina, which was playing in its first game as an FBS program, dominated the rest of second half and sent UMass home with a 38-28 loss Saturday at Brooks Stadium.

“We gave them momentum. They took it and handled it well,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said. “They played better than we did.”

Evan Rabon’s 46-yard field goal didn’t seem like a knockout blow at the time, but it put CCU up 24-21 with 9 minutes, 24 seconds left in the third and gave the Chanticleers the lead for good, because the Minuteman offense sputtered from there.

UMass appeared to have Coastal stopped for another field-goal try, but a facemask penalty extended the Chanticleer’s drive and gave them a first down at the Minuteman 13. From there, Tyler Keane hit a sliding Chris Jones for a touchdown that put the home team up 31-21 with 4:48 left.

Coastal ended any doubt with 3:45 left when a clock-killing drive ended with Oshamar Abercrombie’s second TD that made it 38-21. He finished with 149 yards on 17 carries.

UMass had chances to regain momentum. Andy Isabella dropped a deep ball that might have been a touchdown or would have put the Minutemen deep in Coastal territory on a drive that turned out to be a punt midway through the third.

Redshirt freshman kicker Michael Schreiner missed a 33-yard field goal early in the fourth that prevented UMass from cutting into its deficit.

The Minutemen didn’t score again until Marquis Young punched in a TD from a yard out with 70 seconds left.

Adam Breneman had another big game with nine catches for 126 yards, but he got up slowly after having his legs taken out on a third-quarter tackle. He returned for one more catch before going to the locker room, ending his night.

Whipple didn’t know Breneman’s status after the game.

CCU won the game on the ground with 321 yards rushing on 47 attempts (6.8 yards per carry) in its option offense. Conversely, the Minutemen never got its running game going with just 79 yards on 26 carries.

“They executed their offense well,” UMass senior linebacker Steve Casali said. “Their offensive linemen got to the second level very fast and their running backs were very, very physical.”

Whipple was frustrated with both lines.

“I was disappointed with our offensive line that we didn’t run the ball better,” Whipple said. On defense “they manhandled us, especially in the last drive.”

Andrew Ford completed 25 of 41 passes for 316 yards and a touchdown. He had a rushing score as well.

“They just played better than us, flat out,” Casali said. “The defense missed too many tackles. We turned the ball over too often. We have to learn from our mistakes and reset on Monday. We have to learn from this, but we have to move on from it.”

UMass turned the ball over on its third play of the game. To avoid being sacked, Ford flung a pass left toward Young in the backfield. He wasn’t expecting it and the ball skipped off his hands for a fumble. He reacted like he thought it was an incomplete pass, but CCU safety Nicholas Clark dove on the ball at the UMass 17.

Four plays later, Dalton Demos scored from a yard out to put the Chanticleers up 7-0 with 8:21 left.

“When you’re playing that kind of team, it’s always better to get ahead and we gave them seven right off the bat with the fumble,” Whipple said.

The Minutemen responded with urgency. Highlighted by a 37-yard pass to a wide open Breneman and helped by a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty, UMass covered 72 yards in 1:26, capped by Young’s 5-yard TD run.

After the teams traded a 22-yard TD run by Demos for a 21-yard TD connection from Ford to Isabella (six catches, 101 yards), CCU took a 21-14 lead at halftime.

Ford was sacked at his own 1, forcing Logan Laurent to punt out of the end zone. CCU returned his 44-yard kick to the 36 and Abercrombie punched it in from 4 yards out to provide the intermission margin.

UMass came out of the break in the no-huddle and zipped up the field going 79 yards in 2:03 on nine plays. On second-and-goal with nobody open, Ford battled through defenders for a 9-yard TD run that made it 21-21, 2:09 into the third quarter.

“We had a good drive there and had momentum,” Ford said. “We looked like we had control of the game. But they went down the field, kicked a field goal and got the momentum right back. We have to capitalize the momentum more than one drive at a time.”

The Minutemen host Old Dominion, Saturday at 3:30 p.m.