Failure to launch: Penalties cripple UMass football’s chances in blowout loss at Toledo

  • UMass running back Ellis Merriweather carries the football against Toledo on Saturday at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass quarterback Gino Campiotti led the Minutemen with 65 yards rushing against Toledo on Saturday at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass receiver Isaiah Holiness scored the Minutemen’s only touchdown against Toledo on Saturday at the Glass Bowl in Toledo, Ohio. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2022 1:21:05 AM

UMass accumulated three times the penalty yardage that it gained throwing the ball in a second straight lopsided loss to open the football season.

The Minutemen committed 14 infractions that cost them 133 yards in a 55-10 setback at Toledo on Saturday. They only gained 48 yards through the air and fell behind 28-0 five minutes into the second quarter.

“It wasn’t much of a game. It could have been. Far too many penalties. Far too many areas of a lack of execution,” UMass coach Don Brown said. 

Toledo quarterback Dequan Finn threw for 177 yards and a touchdown while accounting for another two scores and 76 yards on the ground. UMass (0-2) generated a pass rush against him, but the sophomore regularly escaped the pocket scrambling for yards.

Rockets running back Peny Boone also plunged into the end zone twice in the first half.

UMass got on the board with seven seconds until halftime when San Jose State transfer wide receiver Isaiah Holiness took a jet sweep handoff from quarterback Gino Campiotti from a yard out and followed a lane into the end zone.

Campiotti directed the Minutemen’s lone touchdown drive for the second consecutive week. He led the team with 65 yards crushing on 12 carries but completed just 5-of-14 passes for 27 yards. The junior college transfer from Manteca, Calif. took the lions share of the repetitions and started, unlike last week against Tulane when he and Brady Olson alternated series and at times snaps.

Olson entered in the fourth quarter and completed 2-of-3 passes for 21 yards, including a game-long 14-yard reception by Cam Sullivan-Brown. He led the Minutemen to a 24-yard Cameron Carson field goal with 23 seconds remaining.

“Both young guys new in our system,” Brown said. “It just takes reps.”

UMass’ running game received its share of opportunities again. The Minutemen eclipsed 200 yards on the ground for the second consecutive week. Ellis Merriweather gained 54 yards on 17 carries, while Tim Baldwin Jr. picked up 51 with nine. UMass still only averaged 3.8 yards per rush as a team.

The Minutemen did convert 3-of-4 fourth downs and controlled the time of possession battle 35:18-24:42.

“There’s times if we would just function without the extraneous, we might have a chance. We’ve got to make it go away, and we’ve got to make it go away fast,” Brown said.

UMass couldn’t overcome allowing 411 yards of total offense and 6½ yards per play to Toledo. The Rockets converted 5-of-11 third downs and were 6-for-6 in the red zone. They only punted twice.

“We got a lot of work to do. It’s not football work. It’s discipline. It’s doing things the right way, it’s all those things,” Brown said. “That’s what’s gotta get done. We’re not doing that.”

The Minutemen will host Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in their first home game of the season.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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