UMass puts scare in Toledo but falls short, 42-35

Last modified: Tuesday, November 04, 2014

TOLEDO, Ohio — With 38 seconds left and the score tied, UMass coach Mark Whipple called timeout to relay a message to his team.

Toledo had driven to the 19-yard line and Jeremiah Detmer, one of league’s top kickers, was warming up on the sideline. Rather than stake his team’s chances on a missed or blocked field goal with no time left, he told his players to let Toledo score a touchdown to give UMass a chance with the ball. Freshman tailback Terry Swanson sprinted in to put the Rockets ahead by seven with 34 seconds left.

Following a touchback, UMass quarterback Blake Frohnahpfel hit Jean Sifrin for a 23-yard reception to bring the ball to the Minutemen 48 with 14 seconds left. After a timeout, UMass’ comeback hopes were dashed when Frohnapfel’s pass toward the left sideline was intercepted at the Toledo 35 with 5 seconds left as the Minutemen fell 42-35 Saturday at the Glass Bowl.

“I thought that was the only chance. They have the best kicker in the league. There’s nothing else you can do,” Whipple said. “They could have run the (clock) down. You can’t wish their guy to miss a field goal. I thought if we got the ball we’d have a chance.”

The UMass offense liked the decision if not the result.

“As an offensive player, that’s exactly what you want — the opportunity to win the game. We just came up short,” UMass junior receiver Tajae Sharpe said.

Frohnapfel thought they had a chance at a dramatic win.

“Thirty-four seconds is not a lot of time,” Frohnapfel said. “But we’ve gone down the field that fast before. We knew we had a chance to go out and make a play. It just didn’t work out for us.”

UMass (2-7, 2-3 Mid-American Conference) is off until Nov. 12 when it hosts Ball State in a rare Wednesday night game in Amherst.

Despite the loss, Whipple told his team he was proud of them in the postgame.

“I thought they prepared well and were ready to go,” he said. “(Toledo is) a good team. Our guys battled all the way through. We had a chance and we made some mistakes. ... We did a lot of good things, a lot more good things than bad things.”

UMass trailed 28-20 entering the fourth quarter, but Frohnapfel directed a 10-play 84-yard drive, capped by a 36-yard touchdown loft to Sharpe. The receiver made an over-the-shoulder catch in tight coverage while keeping in bounds. A Frohnapfel to Rodney Mills 2-point conversion negated an earlier missed extra point to tie the game 28-28 with 11:57 left.

Toledo answered with a long TD drive of its own, but the Minutemen counterpunched with a quick one. Frohnapfel’s fifth TD pass of the game was a short toss to tight end Jean Sifrin (six catches, 185 yards), who caught the ball at the UMass 26 and stepped through two would-be tacklers. With some help from receiver Jalen Williams, who blocked two would-be tacklers, Sifrin raced down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown that tied the game 35-35 with 5:57 left.

After the UMass defense forced a punt, the Minutemen looked like it might pull ahead when they marched to the Toledo 36. But a 1-yard run, a false start and two incomplete passes left UMass with fourth-and-14 on the Rocket 40, a gamble too big even for Whipple.

So the Minutemen punted giving Toledo the ball back at its own 20. The Rockets gained ground and killed clock on the last scoring drive forcing Whipple’s final decision.

UMass scored the first 13 points of the game on a pair of touchdowns by Williams (six catches, 97 yards) and led 20-7 early in the second quarter. But the Rockets (5-3, 4-0 MAC) scored three straight touchdowns to lead 28-20 after three quarters. Frohnapfel finished 28 of 55 for 438 yards and five touchdowns. He was intercepted twice.

The Minutemen struggled throughout to contain tailback Kareem Hunt, who was returning after missing three games with an injury. Hunt rushed for 198 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Swanson almost joined him in triple digits, finishing with 97 yards and two TDs on 18 carries.

“He was the difference in the game,” Whipple said. “He was the real deal.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at


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