UMass football loses final game to Central Michigan

Last modified: Tuesday, December 25, 2012
FOXBOROUGH — Teammates Hafis Williams and Mike Wegzyn each put an arm around an emotional Perry McIntyre as the University of Massachusetts senior linebacker walked off the field and down the tunnel for the last time as a college football player.

Stephane Milhim waited a little longer. After speaking to his brother in the stands for a moment, he took in the atmosphere one last time.

For the second straight week, things went awry in the second half for the Minutemen. Central Michigan scored 28 straight points to erase UMass’ third-quarter lead, and the Minutemen closed their first season in the Bowl Subdivision with a 42-21 loss to the Chippewas Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

“I let it all sink in one last time,” Milhim said. “This was a great venue to play at ... I wanted to take it in one last time.”

UMass (1-11, 1-7 MAC) has been on the short end of some long scores this season appeared headed for another blowout loss early when CMU stormed out to a 14-0 as the Minutemen struggled to move the ball.

But senior Darren Thellen’s 25-yard interception return to the Central Michigan 9 yard line with 10:14 left in the second quarter ignited the Minutemen.

After A.J. Doyle’s pass to Deion Walker brought the ball to the 1 yard line, Michael Cox ran around the left end of the line and dove for the pylon. In the process, he knocked over the official, who picked himself up and calmly raised his hands to signal touchdown that made it 14-7 with 9:23 left in the half.

After the defense forced a three-and-out, Doyle, who was making his first start, directed a 10-play 54 yard drive, but was intercepted in the end zone.

But the defense held again, giving Doyle the ball at midfield with 2:17 left.

Helped by a ball intended for Walker that was tipped to Jordan Broadnax on fourth and 10, the Minutemen completed the drive, this time capped by an 8-yard TD pass from Doyle to Rob Blanchflower (10 catches, 100 yards).

The momentum carried into the second half. Doyle, who appeared to be gaining confidence, led a 65-yard scoring drive and found Walker from 11 yards out to give the Minutemen a 21-14 lead 3:26 into the second half.

But the Minutemen, who have struggled against power runners all year, couldn’t slow Zurlon Tipton in the second half.

After the two teams traded punts, CMU put the ball in the 6-foot-1, 219-pound back’s hands and he took over the game.

Tipton amassed 141 of his 185 yards (25 carries, four touchdowns) in the second half, including 57 on the game-tying 70-yard drive that he finished with a 3-yard plunge with 2:21 left in the third.

Two more interceptions by Doyle led to two more Chippewa touchdowns as the visitors pulled away.

Doyle completed 30 of 45 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked twice and intercepted three times. Senior Ian Shultis played the final series for UMass. The only pass he threw was intercepted.

“I told the team that it’s not the result that we wanted, but we got what we deserved. We didn’t deserve to win the football game,” UMass coach Charley Molnar said. “Too many errors, didn’t stop the run on critical downs, couldn’t convert offensively on critical downs, players were open, guys didn’t sustain blocks, ball’s a little bit off, guy doesn’t come up with the big catch. Things that we’re capable of doing. Not some Superman effort. So we got what we deserve. We got ourselves a loss. And if they don’t like that result, then the guys have to change.”

McIntyre said he’ll root for his now former team in the future.

“I’ll be a UMass fan tomorrow, but I’m just going to let everything soak in today. Of course, I fought with these guys. I’m all the way in. UMass is in my heart,” said McIntyre, who said he’d recommend UMass to prospective players. “I would just tell him that if you want to get the best out of your potential, you should come here. Because we work hard. We work extremely hard, and they’re going to make you a right person, first and foremost. That’s why I would tell them to come here.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com.

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