Minutemen pull one out in overtime

  • Ross Comis (2) during a game against Appalachian State at McGuirk Stadium, Saturday, October 28, 2017. File Photo

  • Ross Comis (2) during a game against Appalachian State at McGuirk Stadium, Saturday, October 28, 2017. File Photo

  • Andrew Ford (7) during a game against Appalachian State at McGuirk Stadium, Saturday, October 28, 2017. File Photo

  • UMass football headcoach, Mark Whipple, runs onto the field with his team at the beginning of a game against Appalachian State at McGuirk Stadium, Saturday, October 28, 2017. Photo by Caroline O'Connor. File Photo

For The Recorder
Sunday, October 29, 2017

AMHERST — Logan Laurent has been waiting a long time to break out his celebration move.

The senior kicker never had the chance to make a deciding kick at UMass. On Saturday he made two, a 45-yard field goal to extend the game and a 36-yarder to clinch the Minutemen’s 30-27 upset win over Appalachian State at McGuirk Stadium.

When the referees raised their arms to signify that his final kick had gone through, Laurent did a back flip as gray UMass jerseys leapt, hugged and danced around him.

The win, which would have been emotional anyway, had added meaning for the Minutemen, who wanted to win for starting quarterback Andrew Ford, who was immobilized and taken by ambulance to Cooley Dickenson Hospital in Northampton after suffering a first-half neck injury.

Both UMass coach Mark Whipple and athletic director Ryan Bamford confirmed that the procedures were cautionary and that Ford had feeling in all his extremities when he left the field. The fact that he was sent to Northampton for tests instead of Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, which has a trauma center, was further indication that they weren’t worried about more serious injuries.

Adam Breneman, who went to high school with Ford, gathered the team as it prepared to return to action after the 10-minute delay caused by Ford’s injury.

“We rallied our guys. I said to them, ‘Nobody is going to come into our stadium on an illegal cheap hit and still win the game.’ I knew at that point we’d find a way to get the win for Andrew,” Breneman said.

App State tied the game 17-17 on Chandler Staton’s 40-yard field goal late in the third and pulled ahead on his 30-yard kick with 4:42 left in the game.

The Minutemen’s first attempt at a tying or winning drive went backward as they were forced to punt on fourth-and-23 from their own 27.

App State drove to UMass’ 38, forcing the Minutemen to use their remaining three timeouts, but the Mountaineers punted rather than try a 55-yard field goal.

Ross Comis, who replaced Ford, led the offense from the 20-yard line with 1:50 left and no timeouts. Andy Isabella caught four passes on the drive as the Minutemen moved to the 20.

After getting pushed back to the 27, Laurent calmly hit the trying kick with five seconds left to force overtime.

Per college overtime rules, each team gets the ball an equal number of times from the 25. After the team’s traded touchdowns in the first overtime, App State got the ball first in the second and Ali Ali-Musa poked the ball out of Daetrich Harrington’s hands on first down. Bryton Barr pounced on it for UMass.

Whipple kept the ball on the ground for three plays and gained 7 yards before sending Laurent out.

UMass led 17-14 at halftime as its big plays outweighed big mistakes. A 3-yard touchdown by Nick Orekoya and a 47-yard field goal by Laurent gave the Minutemen a 10-0 lead after the first quarter.

Bilal Ally’s fumble early in the second quarter gave the Mountaineers a short field at the UMass 29 right away in the second quarter.

Three plays later, quarterback Taylor Lamb beat the Minuteman defense to the right corner pylon for a 15-yard TD run that made it 10-7 with 12:55 left in the half.

Ford was changing direction to try to help defend the return on an interception he’d just thrown and never saw Myquon Stout coming. The 6-foot-1, 275-pound nose tackle sent Ford sprawling. He landed hard at a scary angle with his head and neck hitting the ground first. He stayed face down as medical staff tended to him.

After Ford’s injury, the Minuteman defense forced an App State punt that Isaiah Rodgers fair caught at the 5. Marquis Young gave the UMass crowd a lift on the first play. He broke through the left side of the line and sprinted 95 yard for a touchdown that made it 17-7 with 4:09 left in the half.