College football: UMass finds way new way to lose against Temple

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FOXBOROUGH — The University of Massachusetts discovered an unusual way to lose a football game on Saturday afternoon, harkening back to last year when Minutemen had their share of "coulda, woulda, shoulda" games.

So how do the Minutemen react after visiting Temple scored twice in the last 1:20 of the game to escape Gillette Stadium with a 25-23 win Saturday afternoon?

"It's tough, but we've got strong players in that locker room who will overcome this and show up to practice [Sunday], ready to compete and go against Notre Dame," said UMass linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox.

UMass took a 23-20 lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Blake Frohnapfel to Jamal Wilson. Blake Lucas' point-after kick was blocked and Temple's Will Hayes returned the ball to the end zone, giving Temple two points.

The Minutemen were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and having to kick off from the 20, the visiting Owls took over on their 35. Ten plays later, Austin Jones kicked a 32-yard field goal with 12 seconds to play and that was that.

"The blocked extra point they return for two, you never really see that and to kind of have it play out that way is not what you're expecting," said Frohnapfel. "We score that touchdown and everybody's excited, but you still have to finish every single play.

"We learned our lesson the hard way. I think we'll have a growing experience from it."

It was also a record-setting afternoon for UMass wide receiver Tajae Sharpe. Sharpe caught 11 of Frohnapfel's 29 completions for 158 yards. Sharpe has 188 catches, one more than Adrian Zullo.

The wild finish more than made up for the first 28 minutes, 40 seconds of the first half where the only points scored came on a 37-yard field goal by Jones as Temple broke a 17-17 halftime tie to make it 20-17.

Temple's Stephaun Marshall picked off Frohnapfel (29 for 55, 393 yards, three touchdowns) at the UMass 49 with 2:59 left. Two plays later, Jahad Thomas fumbled, Kelton Brackett recovered, and the Minutemen were in business at their 41. Eight plays later, Frohnapfel found Jamal Wilson out of the backfield and Wilson eluded two Temple tacklers for a 16-yard touchdown. Then things got unusual.

Lucas' kick was blocked by Temple's Nate D. Smith and Marshall recovered. He lateraled to Will Hayes who ran the final 90 yards for two points. With the TD and the return, UMass' lead was now 23-22 instead of 23 or 24-20.

There was a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct against UMass' Matt Sparks on the play, so the Minutemen kicked off from their 20. Starting at the 35, Temple quarterback P.J. Walker made two clutch third-down pass completions to keep the final drive alive. Then on first-and-10 from the UMass 32, Jones booted the game-winning field goal.

It was a loss, but UMass coach Mark Whipple said it was a far cry from the team that lost by 34 points at Colorado.

"We answered a lot of questions from last week," said Whipple. "There were a lot more positives today."

Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.


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