UMass overmatched at Notre Dame, 62-27

Last modified: Saturday, October 10, 2015
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — In the end there was no shocker. No SportsCenter leading upset. No miracle.

UMass put a scare into Notre Dame for a half, but when the final buzzer sounded, the final result between the sixth-ranked team and a winless one was what most people predicted it would be as the Fighting Irish beat the Minutemen, 62-27, Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

UMass coach Mark Whipple tipped his hat.

“Their varsity was better than our varsity and their JV was a little bit better than our JV. (Notre Dame coach) Brian (Kelly) did a really good job and got their guys ready. We put a little bit of a shock into them and woke them up, I guess, at the end of the second quarter,” Whipple said. “We just couldn’t handle their line. Their offensive line manhandled us. We lost a couple guys early in the game. They just played better than us. We took care of the ball on offense, we just didn’t make enough plays. ... They’re a lot better than we are. We’ll take the money and run.”

The Minutemen received $1 million to play the game.

UMass used big plays and some trickery to stay close early.

Trailing 14-0, freshman tailback Marquis Young broke through the line for an 83-yard touchdown run on the last play of the first quarter. Blake Lucas’ extra point was blocked as UMass trailed 14-6.

On the next play from scrimmage, Randall Jette batted DeShone Kizer’s pass up and Trey Dudley-Giles picked it out of the air for an interception, giving UMass the ball at the 50. Highlighted by Jamal Wilson’s 16-yard run, the Minutemen marched to the 1, where Sekai Lindsay plowed in for his first career touchdown. True freshman Michael Caggiano replaced Lucas and kicked the extra point to make it 14-13 with 11:17 left in the second.

Notre Dame responded with a 74 yard TD march, but UMass answered with its own 75-yard drive that Wilson finished with a 1-yard TD. Caggiano was true again to make it 21-20 with 6:44 left in the half.

But things came apart after that. Notre Dame’s offense overwhelmed the Minutemen. It scored on the last drive of the first half and the first drive of the second to spark a stretch of 41 straight points.

“As we went into halftime we were feeling pretty good about it. But they scored those two quick touchdowns to start the second half and that was a pretty tough hill to climb,” UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel said. “We were with them for the first half, but it didn’t end the way we wanted it to end. It’s tough. When you’re playing a team like that, when they get a lead like that, it’s tough to come back. We were trying to take every chance we had, but against a lead like that, it’s tough to overcome.”

Injuries to the defense proved costly too. Safety Khary Bailey-Smith, who was injured late in last week’s game against Temple, didn’t make the trip. His absence in the secondary left Joe Colton and Zeke Edmonds too often in coverage and the Irish took advantage.

On the defensive line, Robert Kitching was limited by an undisclosed injury entering the game. He played sparingly and was less than 100 percent. His replacement, Ska-Ki Holines, was injured too and left the game on crutches. Their absence muted the Minuteman pass rush allowing Kizer (15 for 22, 207 yards, two touchdowns, interception), who was often shaky under pressure, to get comfortable.

“I think it had more to do with their guys than our guys. They have real guys. Not that we don’t, but their line is really good and their backs are good. We didn’t tackle very well,” Whipple said. “We didn’t have quite the energy that we had last week. I credit Notre Dame. ... I don’t think all those things would’ve mattered, they were just better than us.”

Notre Dame finished with 485 total yards of offense, including 457 yards rushing. C.J. Prosise (15 for 149, two TDs) and Josh Adams (13 for 133, one TD) cleared 100 yards for the Irish (4-0).

Young (103 yards on five carries) was the first UMass back to reach 100 this season. Frohnapfel was 20 for 40 for 233 yards and an interception.

UMass hosts Florida International, Saturday at 3 p.m. at McGuirk Stadium.

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