Read Matt Vautour's story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Freshman LB Holmes makes his presence felt
AMHERST - The pass rejection with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter looked more like something that might have come off the hands of former University of Massachusetts men's basketball shot-blocker Marcus Camby, who was at the game.
But it was redshirt freshman defensive lineman Theo Agnew redirecting Holy Cross quarterback Ryan Taggert's pass deep in UMass territory. The ball sailed backward.
While most players just watched the ball, UMass junior linebacker Tyler Holmes changed direction and ran toward the ball, settling under it for his second interception in as many weeks.
Agnew "is a great football player," Holmes said. "He's always in the right place at the right time and you know he's going to come up with something big for us."
Holmes, UMass' leading tackler last year, has had a knack for big plays. With Holy Cross rarely running the ball Saturday, there were minimal opportunities for linebackers to rack up tackle numbers.
But Holmes still made an impact. He delivered the Minutemen's first sack of the season and forced a first-half Crusader fumble that UMass turned into a touchdown.
Holmes downplayed his impact. "On a lot of those plays my teammates do all the work and I get all the glory," he said. "I just try to play hard for my team. The interception was kind of luck but I'll take it."
UMass coach Kevin Morris has come to expect big plays from Holmes.
"He's always around he ball making big plays for us. He's a quality young man and he's really stepped his game up for us," Morris said. "He's gotten some great bounces in games one and two, but you have to put yourself in position to take advantage of those bounces."
BAILEY HURT - Senior corner back Ke'Mon Bailey left the game with a second-half groin injury and did not return. His status for Saturday will be re-evaluated as the week progresses.
NO IGWENAGU, NO PROBLEM - Junior tight end Emil Igwenagu dressed for the game after injuring his ankle in last week's win over William & Mary, but Kevin Morris elected not to play his captain, who was still well less than 100 percent.
"Emil could have gone tonight but we thought it best to hold him out," Morris said. "He wasn't going to be 100 percent."
In his absence, redshirt freshman Rob Blanchflower made his first career start and made the most of it. He caught three passes for 17 yards and his first career touchdown.
PUNTING WOES - Sophomore Caleb Violette had a punt blocked late in the third quarter setting up Holy Cross' only touchdown. Backup punter Jeff Strait has his first career punt blocked as well late in the fourth quarter. "We had a couple bad mistakes there that you never want to have and they were able to exploit some of our lack of focus on that," Morris said.
NEXT UP - The Minutemen head to Ann Arbor for what will likely be their toughest test of the 2010 season against Michigan.
The Wolverines are 2-0 coming off Saturday's 28-24 win over Notre Dame. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson scored the game-winning touchdown with 27 seconds left in the game. In the game he passed for 244 yards and one TD and rushed for 258 yards and two more scores.
TOP 20 CROWD - The crowd of 16,352 was the 16th largest crowd in McGuirk Stadium history.
DAVID RAMSDEN TACKLE - David Ramsden, the redshirt junior linebacker from Northampton made a tackle in the second half.