Indiana spoils UMass' home opener, 45-6
FOXBOROUGH -- Mike Wegzyn looked like a college football quarterback Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Unfortunately for University of Massachusetts coach Charley Molnar, the defensive unit that looked promising against Connecticut took it on the chin in a big way.
Visiting Indiana gashed the Minutemen for 427 yards -- in the first half -- and scored 31 unanswered points in the opening 30 minutes and the visiting Hoosiers played party poopers in the Minutemen's first FBS home game at Gillette Stadium.
And as it was after last week's loss to Connecticut, the Minutemen still have a lot of work to do after the 45-6 loss to the Hoosiers, which was seen by 16,304 fans.
"Obviously, guys aren't happy, especially with the outcome of the game. We came in looking at this team, I thought we could have done a lot better," Wegzyn said. "We didn't execute like we planned on executing."
Despite scoring six points, UMass did run up 264 yards in total offense on 70 offensive plays. Wegzyn had a much better day, going 18 for 26 for 151 yards before he left the game in the fourth quarter.
The Hoosiers outgained the Minutemen 606 yards to 264. Molnar said he was particularly disappointed with his team's inability to win the line of scrimmage defensively, give up big gainers after big holes were punched in the line, and with the lack of tackling by the defense.
"We need to bring our A game every single week," Molnar said. "There's not going to be many games where the talent level is going to be even on that field -- it's just not going to be.
"For us to stay in the game, we have to bring our A game. If we brought our A game, it quickly dissolved into a B game or C game for a lot of guys."
While Indiana didn't have very much trouble with UMass, the Hoosiers' future was seriously impacted in this game. Quarterback Tre Roberson, who ran for 105 yards on four carries with two touchdowns and was 6 of 11 for 98 yards and one touchdown -- all in the first half -- was taken off the field by ambulance late in the second quarter.
Roberson suffered a leg injury on a 3-yard gain inside the UMass 5-yard line. The Indiana training staff bolted from the sideline to aid the fallen quarterback. The ambulance was out nearly as fast, and it didn't take long to get the sophomore off the field. Roberson suffered a broken leg and is lost for the season.
If the Minutemen are hanging their hats on the play of Wegzyn, however, things are a bit more optimistic.
While the redshirt freshman from Knoxville, Tenn., didn't exactly remind anyone of the starting quarterback of the NFL team that calls Gillette home, it was a far cry from last week's 9-of-22 game with an interception.
"It definitely felt different. I felt more prepared coming out," Wegzyn said. "Speaking from the offensive side, we really found our identity this week. I think it showed in spurts during the game."
Choosing to defer to the third quarter after the coin toss, the Minutemen held the Hoosiers on downs for the first series. Indiana's defense did the same to UMass and a 32-yard punt by Colter Johnson gave the Hoosiers the ball at midfield.
It took Indiana one play to score as Roberson ran through a gaping hole up the middle, turned on the jets and went the distance for a touchdown. Mitch Ewald's kick made it 7-0.
This time, UMass took that punch and came back with one of its own. Starting at its 25, UMass went 75 yards in four plays. Wegzyn, whose first two passes of the game were incomplete, connected with Marken Michel for a 56-yard gain. Two plays later, Wegzyn scored on a 16-yard quarterback keeper. But Blake Lucas' point-after kick was wide left, making it 7-6.
So a first touchdown took a bit of pressure off of the offense. That pressure came back because Indiana needed only four plays to go 75 yards and take the lead for keeps. Again, it was Roberson who scampered 39 yards to the house. The drive was kept alive by a roughing-the-passer penalty.
And when the PAT kick made it 14-6, it also unleashed an avalanche of points by the Hoosiers. That proved to be way too much for the Minutemen to overcome.
"If everybody just does their job and focus on what their responsibilities are," UMass linebacker Perry McIntyre said, "all problems will get fixed."
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