AMHERST — With celebrity coaches calling plays and alumni up and down the sideline, UMass’ annual spring game was more show than serious football. The biggest goal was no injuries, and the Minutemen were successful to that end.
“It was good. They were good,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said. “Nobody got hurt. Guys played hard. There were a lot of good things, a lot more positives than negatives.”
Team Maroon, led by new basketball coach Matt McCall, held off the Chris Berman-helmed Team White, 17-13, Thursday night.
McCall earned himself a Powerade shower for the victory.
Berman’s squad was snake bit from the outset. On the opening kickoff, Andy Isabella looked like he … could … go … all … the … way for Team White but his 95 yard TD return was negated by a penalty.
“After the opening kick I thought it was the easiest job in football,” said the long-time ESPN anchor and personality. “What do you mean there’s a flag?”
It wasn’t the only call against them. Team White was flagged several times early.
“I didn’t even know the guys names yet and we had 100 yards of penalties,” Berman said. “I went over and shook the hand of every ref before the game. I’m never doing that again.”
Starting quarterback Andrew Ford played just a little of the first quarter, lining up for both sides. McCall, who promised a wide open offense, called for deep balls from Ford to freshman receiver Brennon Dingle on his first two plays from offense.
Dingle, who has drawn praise all spring, caught eight passes for 109 yards and a TD.
“Dingle made some plays, and Andrew was good while he was in there,” Whipple said.
Marquis Young added 13 carries for 93 yards and a score.
BOLAND TROPHY — Prior to the game, UMass announced the creation of its new Michael Boland Inspiration al Award and presented it to juniors Adam Breneman and Steve Casali,
Established in memory of Boland, an offensive lineman who died in February, it will annually honor the most dedicated players in the program.
“It meant a lot, totally unexpected. It came out of nowhere,” Breneman said. “Out of all the recognition I’ve gotten, that one means a little more than all the others. I think he’d be really proud. He was a great leader, so inspirational. Having my name by his on that plaque really means a lot to me.”
LONG SHOWING FOR WEST — With Ford just making a cameo and Ross Comis still sidelined from last year’s season-ending injury, Randall West has seen more action all spring and was the busiest quarterback in the spring game, completing 13 of 22 throws for 79 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
“He’s gotten better. He’s coming on. He’s doing a really good job,” Whipple said.
West was pleased with his progress.
“Every day I’m trying to get better. He’s giving me the reps. I’m trying to capitalize on all the opportunities that I have,” West said. “I felt like I came out, gained some knowledge and controlled the offense a little better than I had going into the spring. It’s always fun getting out in a game atmosphere and getting new experiences. And it was fun cause we won.”