Hawaii outlasts UMass 46-40; Minutemen close season 2-10

  • While being guarded by Hawaii defensive back Jalen Rogers (19), Massachusetts wide receiver Jalen Williams (80) makes a catch during the forth quarter at the NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts running back Marquis Young (8) runs the ball in for a forth quarter touchdown over Hawaii during the NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Hawaii wide receiver Dylan Collie (23) makes a third quarter touchdown catch over Massachusetts at the NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts wide receiver Jalen Williams (80) pushes off Hawaii defensive back Jamal Mayo (11) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts running back Sekai Lindsay carries on a kick return during the second quarter of the team's NCAA college football game against Hawaii on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts quarterback Andrew Ford (7) throws a pass while being pulled down by Hawaii linebacker Malachi Mageo (38) during the first quarter of the NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts running back Marquis Young (8) carries during the second quarter of the team's NCAA college football game against Hawaii on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts tight end Adam Breneman (81) pulls in a touchdown pass in front of Hawaii defensive back Damien Packer (21) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts running back Marquis Young (8) pushes off Hawaii defensive back Trayvon Henderson (39) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts tight end Adam Breneman (81) scores a touchdown against Hawaii during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • While under pressure from Hawaii defensive lineman David Manoa (3), Massachusetts quarterback Andrew Ford (7) throws a pass during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts wide receiver Jalen Williams (80) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Bernard Davis (88) during the third quarter of the NCAA college football game against Hawaii on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts wide receiver Jalen Williams (80) makes a catch over Hawaii defensive back Jamal Mayo (11) for a touchdown during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Massachusetts fullback Andrew Libby (37) holds the ball for Massachusetts place kicker Logan Laurent (99) for a field goal against Hawaii during the second quarter of the NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • While being chased down by Hawaii defensive back Rojesterman Farris II (18), Massachusetts wide receiver Jalen Williams (80) can't pull in a pass during the second quarter of the NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

  • Hawaii defensive lineman Tevarua Eldridge (43) and teammates do a Hawaiian haka dance before the team's NCAA college football game against Massachusetts on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

For The Gazette
Published: 11/27/2016 3:57:13 PM

HONOLULU – Twice in Saturday night’s season finale, UMass fought back from double-digit deficits, first to take a lead and then to forge a tie. But it didn’t last, and Hawaii became the latest beneficiary of a familiar Minuteman problem – closing out games.

Dru Brown’s fifth touchdown pass of the evening, a 56-yarder to Keelan Ewaliko with 3 minutes, 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter, snapped a tie. UMass’ last-ditch drive ended at the Hawaii 21-yard line, when Andrew Ford threw incomplete to Bernard Davis in the end zone on fourth down, allowing the Rainbow Warriors to outlast the Minutemen 46-40 at Aloha Stadium.

UMass (2-10) fell behind 40-26 early in the fourth quarter before rallying for a pair of scores less than 90 seconds apart. On a 75-yard drive, Ford converted a pair of fourth-and-ones with quarterback sneaks. John Robinson-Woodgett dove in from the 1, bouncing off a hit in mid-air but extending the football just across the goal line. Mike Caggiano’s extra point made it 40-33.

Hawaii went three-and-punt and UMass was back to even within 31 seconds, aided by Ford’s 34-yard completion to Jalen Williams. From the Hawaii 18, Marquis Young (117 rushing yards) took a delayed handoff over the left side for six more, and Caggiano’s PAT tied it with 5:29 on the clock.

That deadlock lasted only 1:31, as from the UH 44, Brown hit Ewaliko against the left sideline. UMass defender Khary Bailey-Smith went for the interception and missed, and Ewaliko spun away to complete the 56-yard scoring play. Rigoberto Sanchez, 42-for-42 on extra points to that point this season, yanked his kick wide to the left, leaving UMass down by six.

Just as they’d done on most possessions, the Minutemen had little trouble moving downfield. Ford connected with Andy Isabella on three straight passes of 44, 1 and 10 yards, and UMass found itself at the UH 20. From there, though, Young lost 4 yards on third-and-7, and Ford missed connections with Davis in the back-left corner of the end zone, with coverage and contact from Rainbow Warrior defensive back Rojesterman Farris.

Nothing was called, Hawaii (6-7) took over at its own 21 and ran out the clock, and the theme of missed opportunities and failure to make critical plays was a common refrain in the UMass postgame.

“It was a strange 2-10 season, because we don’t really feel like we’re 2-10,” said standout tight end Adam Breneman. “We’ve played some really good teams, five Power 5 schools. There was never a time in the season when you didn’t want to be there. We always knew we had a good team. We’ve just got to learn how to finish some of these games.”

“We’ve fought all year, but we haven’t made enough plays,” said UMass coach Mark Whipple. “I felt bad for the seniors, but they’re the ones who dropped an interception, dropped a touchdown pass … They’re fun to coach, they’ve worked hard and played hard, but just came up short.”

So ended an epic UMass road trip that began last weekend with a 51-9 loss to BYU in Provo, Utah. From there, the Minutemen jetted 3,000 miles and three time zones further west. They’ll renew acquaintances with the Rainbow Warriors next season, with an Oct. 7 game in Amherst.

Brown hit Ewaliko for a 27-yard gain on the game’s first play from scrimmage, and the Rainbow Warriors’ drive was helped along by a pass-interference call that put the ball at the UMass 9. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Brown (22-of-30, 311 yards) faked an inside give and threw to an open Dakota Torres in the right corner of the end zone for a 7-0 Hawaii lead only 3:49 into the action.

UMass dialed up the no-huddle offense on its first series, with Ford throwing three straight completions for 30 yards. On a third-and-11, Ford was roughed by Hawaii’s Ikem Okeke to give UMass a first down at the UH 21. The drive stalled when Young was trapped for a 6-yard loss on third-and-2, but Logan Laurent came on to bang through a 37-yard field goal with 7:07 to go in the quarter.

The next Hawaii drive featured three false starts and an offensive pass-interference call, but UMass was guilty of an interference penalty of its own. Sanchez beat the end of the quarter with a 37-yard field goal at the two-second mark for a 10-3 Rainbow Warriors lead after one.

Isaiah Rodgers ran the next kickoff back 44 yards to start the Minutemen at their 49. After Isabella picked up 12 yards and Young went for 24 to the Hawaii 15, Ford found his favorite target, Breneman, on a skinny post pattern for the touchdown. Caggiano’s extra point pulled the Minutemen into a 10-10 tie with 13:58 to go in the half.

Three plays later, Hawaii was back in front following a pair of 14-yard completions by Brown and a 43-yarder over the top to Dylan Collie, who beat UMass’ Jesse Monteiro down the left sideline. Video review confirmed the score, and Sanchez added the extra point for a 17-10 lead.

Young ripped off 24 yards on the Minutemen’s next play and Ford threw to Williams for 25 yards, but after reaching the Hawaii 20, Ford was dropped for a 13-yard sack after a bad snap from center. Laurent drilled his second field goal of the night from 38 yards with 8:32 to play.

An exchange of punts followed before the Rainbow Warriors made it a two-score game on a quick five-play, 57-yard drive. Brown scrambled for a pair of 14-yard gains before hitting a leaping and well-covered Marcus Kemp in the back-right corner of the end zone for a 11-yard score.

On its second possession of the second half, UMass cut into it with a 74-yard drive, started by Young’s 23-yard scamper and finished when Ford hit Isabella with a 39-yard TD pass that went through the hands of Hawaii defender Farris and was caught on the juggle by Isabella. Trayvon Henderson blocked the extra-point try by Caggiano, leaving the score at 24-19.

UMass then forced its first turnover of the evening, when Brown was hit on a scramble by Colbert Calhoun, fumbled and Tedrick Lowery recovered at the Hawaii 26. Two plays later, Ford hit Williams down the left seam for a 27-yard score, beating Hawaii’s Jamal Mayo. This time, Caggiano made no mistake on the PAT and the Minutemen had their first lead of the night at 26-24.

It didn’t last, as a Hawaii punt dropped UMass back at its own 7 and Ford was forced to jump on the football in the end zone after a bad shotgun snap from center. The safety brought the Rainbow Warriors even at 26-26.

The game came to a frightening halt shortly thereafter when UMass defensive lineman Enock Asante collided with a teammate, went down and was taken from the field strapped to a backboard with an unspecified injury. (UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford wrote on Twitter Sunday that Asante traveled home with the team and was “walking on his own accord”.) Brown threw his fourth touchdown pass moments later, a 31-yarder to Collie on a go route, and the Rainbow Warriors went back in front 33-26 with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter.

UMass then punted and Hawaii, helped by Ben Scruton’s 14-yard first-down pickup on a fake punt, reached midfield. On the next play, Diocemy Saint-Juste (game-high 122 yards rushing) swept the right side and cut upfield for a 40-yard TD run and a 40-26 Warrior lead.

“Tonight kind of summed up our whole season in one game. We’re never out of anything,” said Ford, who threw for 342 yards on 24-of-38 passing with three touchdowns. “We always thought when we had the ball, we were going to score. As long as there was time on the clock, we were going to keep fighting and make sure Hawaii earned everything they got.”

Isabella (134 yards) and Williams (133) each caught seven passes from Ford. UMass ended the night with 459 total yards to Hawaii’s 479.

“A lot of these guys have never been outside the East,” said Whipple, considering the season-ending 10-day trip. “We brought out a lot of young guys who learned how to travel. Our guys practiced well all week. They were determined, after the way they played in the second half (against BYU).”


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