Defense Leads #8 UMass Over Towson, 27-14

Jonathan Hernandez (22) rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Jonathan Hernandez (22) rushed for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Oct. 2, 2010

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TOWSON, Md. - John Griffin went over 100 yards rushing for the second week in a row and the defense came up big, leading No. 8 UMass (4-1) to a 27-14 victory over Towson (1-4) on Saturday night at Johnny Unitas Stadium. The win keeps UMass tied atop the CAA standings at 2-0 as Towson fell to 0-2.

Griffin finished with 117 yards on 21 carries and one score, while Jonathan Hernandez racked up 60 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown, his seventh of the season.

Linebackers Tyler Holmes and Mike Mele both set career-highs in tackles with 18 and 13, respectively. Three of Holmes' tackles were for losses, including one sack.

Kyle Havens was 15-of-27 passing for 194 yards and one touchdown.

Leading by six, 20-14, going into the fourth quarter, UMass extended its advantage on a 5-yard touchdown run by John Griffin that put the Minutemen on top, 27-14 with 14 minutes to go.

From there the defense did its job, forcing the next two Towson possessions to end on downs.

The Minutemen extended their lead to 20-14 just over five minutes into the second half on Caleb Violette's 23-yard field goal on a drive that was highlighted by Havens' 44-yard pass to Julian Talley. Havens was injured on the play and drew a roughing the passer penalty.

The Minutemen took the lead just prior to halftime as the Minutemen perfected a 2-minute drill that completed with a 10-yard TD pass from Havens to Anthony Nelson with 29 seconds left in the half. UMass moved the ball 97 yards in 2:57 with Havens going 6-of-7 for 73 on the drive.

Violette cut the Towson lead to 14-10 with 5:46 left in the opening half when he drilled a 33-yard field goal.

UMass' woes continued when after the defense came up with a goal-line stand to take over on downs, Hernandez fumbled on the first play, setting up 5-yard touchdown pass from Chris Hart to Alex Blake, giving the Tigers a 14-7 lead with 13:22 left in the second quarter.

Towson tied the game, 7-7, when Jeremy Gardner tripped up Havens in his own end zone, knocking the ball loose and it was recovered by Marcus Valentine for the touchdown with 4:25 left in the first. It was Towson's first opening quarter points of the season.

After Towson missed a 50-yard field goal attempt on its first possession after UMass went 3-and-out to start the game, the Minutemen marched 67 yards on 12 plays, 10 of which were rushes, capped off by Hernandez' seventh touchdown of the season, giving UMass a 7-0 lead with 6:13 left in the first quarter.

The Minutemen are off next week and return to action on Oct. 16 when they host No. 11 Richmond on Homecoming at McGuirk Stadium in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.



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