Tricky return a great way to start for UMass
AMHERST As the University of Massachusetts football team practiced the return it used on the opening kickoff, the coaching staff had high aspirations for its potential.
Weve had it in our arsenal. We had to the wait for the right time. Today happened to be the right time, said senior special teams specialist Woody Carter IV. The coaches always say whenever we run this it has to be six points.
Maines kick was closer to a line drive than a high arching one as it sailed toward the right corner of McGuirk Stadiums southwest end zone.
Senior Anthony Nelson caught the ball there and began sprinting up the left sideline as the Maine defense began converging in that direction. But just as Nelson crossed the 10 yard line he flipped the ball to redshirt freshman Ryan Carter who crossed back across the field.
Black Bear freshman Mike Mangiarelli saw the exchange and had a chance to cut off Ryan Carters path back across the field, but moments before he could make a play, he was sent sprawling. Woody Carter IV, Ryans older brother, leveled Mangiarelli with a crushing block that gave Ryan room to run.
That was a great block. As soon as I got the ball I saw a Maine player just go flying, Ryan said. Thats when I knew I was going all the way.
He was right. He sprinted down the right sideline with help from blocks by Jesse Julmiste and Jamar Smith. As he crossed the goal line with UMass first kickoff return touchdown since the season-opening game in the 2007, Woody Carter pumped his fist trailing the play.
Everyone on the team is like a family member, but him being my brother its a little bit closer. This is my last year and our last time to play together, he said. Everybody had a block, mine just happened to be the first one.
The play gave the Minutemen control throughout the game.
Wed been coming out flat in previous weeks and we wanted a spark. Ryan provided that, junior captain Tyler Holmes said. It gave us the lift for the victory today.
Coach Kevin Morris agreed.
The kids did a great job executing. They took their assignments and got the job done, he said. That was very exciting and a great way to start.
MISSED PAT UMass won despite a tough day for Caleb Violette, who missed one extra point, had another blocked and had a punt partially blocked. Violette had been 19-for-19 on PATs entering the game.
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS The Minutemen continued to be aggressive on fourth down. They converted three times on fourth and short, all on a touchdown drive that crossed from the first quarter into the second.
Its huge. When you have a 10-minute drive and a few third and fourth down conversions it takes the wind out of the sails of the defense, UMass tight end Rob Blanchflower said. Its pretty demoralizing to give that up.
MILESTONES Kyle Havens moved into UMass top five in completions as his 22 gave him 323 passing Peil Pennington (316). Next up is Jeff Krohn 375. His three touchdown passes were a career high. He now has 23 career TD throws which moved him into a tie for seventh on UMass all-time list with Noel Reebenacker. Next up is Tim Day (27).
MISCELLANEOUS Holmes two interception returns for touchdowns made him the 23rd player in Championship Subdivision history to bring two back and the first since Southeast Missouris Kellin White did on Oct. 30, 2004..
UMass 26 points in the second quarter were the most the Minutemen have scored in a single quarter since 2008. There were 12,121 fans in attendance as part of Band Day.