Recounting UMass’ Prime-Time Weeknight Games

UMass is in a rare position for spotlight on Friday, as they will appear on CBS Sports Network in a Friday Night primetime game against FAU. This week’s game is the Minutemen’s seventh week night game since they moved to FBS in 2012. Like other things in the UMass program, the Minutemen have not done well under the weeknight lights. The Minutemen have a 1-5 record in such games. Today, we’ll recount those prior six games.

8/30/2012: Debut Game @ UConn

Well, UMass entered the FBS ranks on the big stage, well, sort of. Their first game as a MAC member and FBS team was on the opening Thursday of the season on the Big East’s syndicated network against UConn. Many games were on the slate that night, so it’s hard to say this game was nationally prominent. The game was Huskies throughout, as UConn cruised to a dominant 37-0 win. Chandler Whitmer threw for 219 yards, while the defense held the Minutemen to 59 yards of offense and three first downs.

11/12/2014 vs Ball State

In their third year in the conference, the Minutemen finally got a taste of some November #MACtion at home versus Ball State in a Wednesday night game televised by ESPNU. Only another #MACtion game between Kent State and Bowling Green was on the airwaves that night.

Blake Frohnapfel and Tajae Sharpe put on a show as Frohnapfel threw for 424 yards and Sharpe caught 13 passes for 239 yards in a 24-10 win. The defense was strong, forcing four turnovers with Trey Seals picking off a pass and recovering a fumble. The Minutemen would end the year 3-9, however.

11/18/2014 @ Akron

Unfortunately, the Minutemen could not build momentum the following week on the road against Akron in a Tuesday night game streamed on ESPN3. Like last week, this game shared the stage with only another #MACtion game, this time between Northern Illinois and Ohio.

The Zips did not look back after racing to a 20-0 halftime lead on the way to a 30-6 win in snowy Infocision Stadium. Without Blake Frohnapfel six days after his stellar performance against Ball State, Austin Whipple threw three interception to Akron in his place. On defense, the Minutemen had little answers for Kyle Pohl as he threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns, while Conor Hundley and Jawan Chisolm combined for 146 rushing yards.

10/7/2016 @ Old Dominion

UMass’s next weeknight game occurred on accident after they had no weeknight games in 2015. Hurricane Matthew caused Old Dominion to move their clash with UMass to Friday night in a game streamed by CUSA.tv. If the relative obscurity of CUSA.tv wasn’t enough, the game shared the stage with games featuring eventual-national champion Clemson and ten-win teams Tulsa and Boise State.

UMass was competitive throughout, trailing only 22-16 late in the 3rd quarter before losing 36-16. David Washington led a balanced attack for the Monarchs, throwing for 248 and a score, while Jeremy Cox added 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground.

For the Minutemen, Marquis Young did his best to keep up with Cox, rushing for 163 and a score of his own, but two turnovers did them no favors. UMass would finish their first year of independence at 2-10.

9/15/2017 @ Temple

UMass returned to the Friday night lights the next year at Lincoln Financial on ESPNU against Temple. The only other game in the early evening timeslot was a faceoff between #22 South Florida and Illinois. The Minutemen hoped to avenge a heartbreaking overtime loss in 2015, where a blocked extra point and subsequent game-winning field goal spoiled UMass’ upset bid.

UMass let another one get away against the Owls as Michael Schreiner missed three field goals in a 29-21 loss. Temple jumped to 19-7 and 29-14 leads before an Andrew Ford run cut the deficit to 8 for the Minutemen with 1:41 left to play. Yet, a sack on the final play stifled UMass’s comeback bid.

Both quarterbacks played phenomenal as Logan Marchi threw for 248 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions, while Andrew Ford threw for 377 yards and two touchdowns without a pick as well. On the season, the Minutemen went 4-8, but had wins over BYU and Sun Belt champ Appalachian State.

8/30/2019 @ Rutgers

UMass’s last weeknight game until this Friday was an Friday night Labor Day weekend clash with Rutgers on Labor Day Weekend that the Big Ten Network broadcasted. The game shared a time slot with five other games, so football fans had options besides a much anticipated game of teams who would combine for a 3-21 record at the end of the season.

Things looked great for UMass early as they held a 21-7 run at the end of the first quarter. Nevertheless, there is a reason they make you play all four quarters as Rutgers scored 41 unanswered points in a 48-21 win.

Bilal Ally and Cam Roberson each scored a touchdown for the Minutemen, but the Rutgers offense stole the show. Isaih Pacheco ran for 156 yards and four touchdowns, while McLane Carter threw for 340 yards and two scores, with Bo Melton on the receiving end of six of those aerials for 127 yards and a score. The game was just the start of a nightmarish 1-11 year for the Minutemen.

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