UMass football blanked by Temple, 28-0

For the Gazette
Published: 9/24/2022 7:45:16 PM
Modified: 9/24/2022 7:44:28 PM

PHILADELPHIA — The good feelings that the University of Massachusetts football team packed on the charter flight after their first win of the season must have gotten lost in baggage claim. 

The Minutemen forced three Temple turnovers on three possessions in the first half and came up empty. Converting one of those three might have changed the complexion of what turned into a 28-0 loss at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday afternoon.

Only one of those three turnovers, two interceptions and the recovery of a muffed punt, led to potential points for the Minutemen but Cameron Carson missed a 48-yard field goal with 5:40 left until halftime. Temple responded with a nine-play, 69-yard touchdown drive to close the half with a 7-0 lead. The Owls, now 2-2, in essence, put the game away with an 80-yard touchdown drive on the opening series of the third quarter. UMass fell to 1-3.

"You can't get frustrated when you don't score. You have to keep playing the game," UMass coach Don Brown said. "Unfortunately for us, I think there was some frustration. You can't get frustrated when things don't go your way. You just have to stay in the foxhole, keep playing and keep competing. If you do that then things will eventually go your way."

It was the first shutout by a Temple defense since 2016, and marked the first time UMass had been shut out since losing to Liberyy 45-0 in the final game of the 2020 four-game COVID-shortened season.

"But like I said before when we started to talk, you just got to keep playing," Brown said, pounding the lectern in the press conference room for emphasis. "I didn't think we did that very well today."

Ellis Merriweather led UMass with 53 net yards rushing on eight carries, while quarterback Gino Campiotti carried the ball 14 times for 47 net yards. He was also 7 for 14 for 36 yards with an interception.

Zamar Wise, one of three UMass quarterbacks who saw playing time, had 16 net yards on nine carries and was 3 for 7 for 35 yards. It was Wise's first action of 2022.

On Saturday, UMass managed to cross midfield seven times in the game, getting inside the Temple 40 yard line only twice. 

What proved to be UMass' best scoring opportunity came with five minutes gone in the second quarter. The Minutemen got the ball when E.J. Warner's pass for Ian Stewart was picked off by Noah Boykin on the Minuteman 35-yard line. The pick came three plays after Temple's Alex Odom intercepted an ill-advised throw by Campiotti. A 21-yard return had set the Owls up at the UMass 43. Instead, the Minutemen got a shot to break the ice in the 0-0 tie.

Campiotti led the Minutemen on a nine-play drive, all running plays, that moved the ball from the UMass 35 to the Temple 29. But on third-and-3, Campiotti lost two yards on a run, and the Minutemen were ready to take three points. But Cameron Carson's kick was no good, and Temple took over on the UMass 31.

Nine plays later, Temple scored. A 34-yard pass from Warner, the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, to Adonicas Sanders on third-and-14 went for 34 yards and a huge first down. Six plays later, Warner and Ian Stewart hooked up on a 11-yard touchdown pass as Stewart beat cornerback Jordan Mahoney in the end zone. The kick by Rory Bell made it 7-0 with 1:54 left in the half.

That was how the half ended. The way the game had played out in the opening 30 minutes, that felt like a near-insurmountable lead.

"It's a big win. They don't come easy, that's for sure," Temple coach Stan Drayton said. "UMass did a phenomenal job in the first half of that ballgame."

The Minutemen, who got the ball first in the game, had to kick off to start the third quarter. They had held the Owls to 86 total yards of offense in the first half. Unfortunately for the Minutemen, they surrendered almost as many on the opening drive, which Drayton's team turned into a touchdown. 

The big play was a 30-yard pass from Warner to tight end David Martin-Robinson on fourth down and 1 from the Owls' 29-yard line. With the bullet dodged, the home team methodically marched down the field and scored on a two-yard run by backup quarterback Quincy Patterson, the Temple designated running quarterback. The PAT made it 14-0.

UMass went three-and-out in a hurry but the defense thwarted a drive that ended on the UMass 34.

Instead of using that defensive momentum, Brady Olson threw a pick-six. Temple linebacker Layton Jordan made a highlight, one-handed grab of Olson's pass for Josiah Johnson and took it down the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown. 

"I think he made a good break on the ball," Brown said of Jordan. "I'm not sure we saw him. We're going to have to find that out in filmwork and so forth over the next two days. I'm not sure he saw him. Obviously, he had a nice run after the catch and it resulted in a score, which is not what we're looking for, that's for sure."

Both defenses did good jobs on third downs. Temple was 3 for 11 while UMass was, in Brown's eyes, a disappointing 3 for 17.

"We weren't very good on third down. We've got to get better," he said, "go back to the drawing board and make sure we're looking at everything we can do to get better in that area. I thought it, when you look at it at the end of the day, we have 259 yards and they have 315. They had 88 at the half. It wasn't going to be one of those kind of games where it was going to be high scoring. We just took ourselves out of it in that third quarter when we gave up the deep shot that led to a first down."

The Minutemen will be on the road next week at Eastern Michigan. Eastern fell to 2-2 by losing 50-31 at home to Buffalo, for the Bulls' first win of 2022.


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