Offense fails UMass football in loss to Bowling Green

Last modified: Sunday, November 11, 2012
FOXBOROUGH — For most of three quarters Saturday, the University of Massachusetts football team’s defense carried a struggling offense to keep the Minutemen in the game against Bowling Green.

But the offense never even got close to the end zone as UMass fell 24-0 before a homecoming crowd of 10,846 at Gillette Stadium.

The Minutemen (0-7, 0-4 Mid-American Conference) trailed 7-0 until the Falcons scored twice in less than a minute late in the third to eliminate any suspense. A 2-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Matt Schilz capped a 74-yard drive with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left in the third quarter to give Bowling Green a 14-0 lead. Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Dwayne Woods intercepted Mike Wegzyn at the UMass 48-yard line and raced into the end zone with 2:51 left in the third to make it 21-0.

The Falcons (5-3, 3-1 MAC) added a late field goal to close out the scoring.

The Minutemen finished with just 118 yards of total offense and were 1-of-16 on third down.

“I would say so much of it was just not executing,” UMass coach Charley Molnar said. “Just pull-your-hair-out type of things that some of the guys did, and these are just basics. Basic stuff guys just didn’t do.

“I don’t know that we do anything well regularly,” he added. “We do do some things well, but not on a consistent basis. Today, even those things that we’ve managed to do well — hit some short passes, some presnap reads when some guys are obviously going to be open, get the ball to them — we just didn’t do it today. We went for the hard throw rather than the easy throw.

“We left the pocket when protection was good,” Molnar continued. “We don’t always have good protection, but when it’s good, we’ve got to stay in the pocket, go through your reads, and today we just kind of abandoned a lot of forward progress that we had made.”

Wegzyn completed just 9-of-25 passes for 23 yards and was intercepted twice before sitting for the fourth quarter. His replacement, true freshman A.J. Doyle, was 4-of-9 for 10 yards and he also was intercepted twice.

Molnar said Wegzyn has slipped since strong outings against Miami (Ohio) and Ohio University.

“Performance-wise, I would say that he’s not matched that. It’s not exactly like he’s trying to scale Mount Everest to get back to that level of performance, but today even, he was just not himself,” Molnar said. “Things that he does in practice every day, tougher things, and today he just didn’t do it. We’ll have to go back and look and make sure that he’s confident in what he does and he knows what he’s doing. If we’ve got too much on his plate, then we’ve got to take something off.”

Wegzyn put the responsibility for the offense’s struggles on himself.

“It’s the most frustrated I’ve been in awhile, definitely,” he said. “Obviously, Bowling Green’s a good team. They’re a great defense. We knew that coming in. We accepted the challenge. . . .

“As quarterback, I need to lead the offense and get things going, even when they’re not, and I didn’t do that today,” Wegzyn added. “It’s awful that we had that kind of performance. (Our defense was) playing so well, fighting so hard, that personally, I feel like I let them down.”

The rushing offense wasn’t much better, gaining 85 yards on 26 carries, with over a third of that coming on one 32-yard run by Mike Cox (10 carries, 37 yards).

The Minuteman defense held tailback Anthon Samuel to 60 yards on 22 carries and allowed the Falcons to convert just four of 17 third downs.

“Defensively, I think they played the best they’ve played this year. They tackled well, we stopped the run, made some great individual efforts in the back end,” Molnar said. “Offensively, we just couldn’t put any wind in their sails. We couldn’t give them any life. I thought they just kept fighting and fighting on D and offensively, we just didn’t have it today.”

UMass freshman Kassan Messiah had 16 tackles, his third double-digit tackle performance in the last four game.

Messiah said he hopes the defense would build off its play.

“Definitely. I feel like we made progress today as a unit,” he said. “Different people won individual battles. Everybody just took the initiative to do their job, basically, and we made progress today as a defense.”

The Minutemen play their final nonconference game of the season at 7 p.m. Saturday at Vanderbilt.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Follow UMass coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteUMass. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.