UMass falls apart in second half, drops season opener to Boston College, 30-7

Last modified: Thursday, September 04, 2014
FOXBOROUGH — After a lot of first-half bending, the UMass football team finally broke in the second half.

Boston College owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and systematically ground down the Minutemen, who lost the first game of the second Mark Whipple era, 30-7, Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

The UMass offense couldn’t stay on the field and the defense couldn’t get off of it. BC kept the ball for 42 minutes, 11 seconds and turned that into a 511-202 edge in total yardage.

“I thought we were ready for this football game. The problem was we didn’t play complimentary football,” said junior safety Joey Colton, who had 13 tackles. “The defense didn’t compliment the offense after we scored and the offense didn’t compliment us after we were making (BC) kick field goals.”

UMass survived in the first half by getting stronger defensively in the red zone. BC turned the ball over on downs on its first drive and settled for field goals on its next two.

Trailing 6-0, the Minutemen had an opportunity to grab momentum and perhaps a lead when Randall Jette picked off Tyler Murphy at the BC 39-yard line and returned it to the 19 with 2:20 left in the first half, igniting the UMass portion of the 30,479 in attendance.

But on the next play, new Minuteman quarterback Blake Frohnapfel dropped back to pass and tried to get rid of the ball when BC’s Justin Simmons hit him. The pass fluttered almost sideways and didn’t come near the line of scrimmage. UMass was flagged for intentional grounding bringing the ball back to the BC 34. The next two plays produced 4 yards and Blake Lucas missed a 47-yard field goal wide right sending the Minutemen to the locker room down 6-0.

“You’re trying to make something happen in that situation and having that grounding stalled us a little bit,” Whipple said. “We have to have something happen there.”

The Eagles stuck to their ground game after intermission and pulled away. They came out of halftime with a 13-play, 75-yard, 6:06 drive that was capped by Myles Willis’ 1-yard TD run that made it 13-0 with 8:49 left in the third.

Badly needing a pick-me-up, the UMass offense couldn’t deliver. Heavy pressure on Frohnapfel led to two hurried incomplete passes and a sack as the Minutemen couldn’t stay on the field for even a minute and were forced to punt.

“Blake wasn’t at his best,” Whipple said. “We missed some throws. I felt we had to make a couple throws to give us a little momentum and that didn’t happen.”

Frohnapfel took responsibility after the game.

“You don’t get many opportunities against a team like that. If we hit on some of those throws it might have been a different game. Those are plays I have to make for us to win games like that.”

After a Murphy 1-yard run capped another methodical drive to make it 20-0 with 3:04 left, the UMass offense briefly clicked.

On third-and-10 on the Minuteman 23, Frohnapfel (9-for-22, 147 yards, one TD, one interception) hit junior Tajae Sharpe at the 48-yard line and the receiver broke free. Simmons tracked him down inside the 10-yard line but Sharpe (two catches, 90 yards) yanked him along for the final yards as he reached his right hand over the line to move within 20-7 with 1:29 left in the third.

But BC put a quick end to the meager uprising. Murphy hit a wide-open Josh Bordner for a 43-yard TD pass eight seconds into the fourth quarter that made it 27-7.

“I was disappointed that we finally did make a play on the touchdown to Taj, and we kind of get back in it, but then we give up another touchdown,” Whipple said.

Murphy finished with 173 yards passing (17-of-24, one TD, one INT) and 118 yards rushing (13 carries).

“They’re quarterback was better than ours,” Whipple said. “He was probably the player of the game. We didn’t tackle him very well.”.

Overall Whipple was disappointed, but not disheartened.

“The things that happened today showed we’re not ready to play in the ACC,” Whipple said. “But that’s not what we’re in. ... We’re a work in progress. Overall I’m not happy, but I’m not displeased. Our goal is to get out of these first two games at home 1-1. I told the team that’s what we have to do.”

UMass will host Colorado, at 3 p.m. Saturday.

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