On this cool autumn night in Amherst it looked like both the Ball State Cardinals and the Massachusetts Minutemen were going to embrace all that is MACtion after scoring back to back touchdowns. UMass opened it up with a three play 77 yard drive, capped off by a three yard Shadrach Abrokwah run. Jack Milas quickly answered with a 33 yard pass to Jordan Williams. Williams would finish as the leading receiver for the Cards with 84 yards on 7 catches.
This game would belong to Tajae Sharpe as he demonstrated on a national stage why he is one of the best receivers in the country. He tied a school record with 13 receptions with 239 yards. He did pretty much whatever he wanted on the field and was UMass' impact player.
The game would then transition into a defensive struggle. Each team had a problem protecting the football. Blake Frohnapfel threw two picks in the first half and the Cardinals would fumble the ball twice.
The UMass defense really stepped up only allowing Ball State three points for after that first touchdown. Jovan Santos-Knox led the way with 14 total tackles and a forced fumble. Randall Jette also did his part shutting helping to shut down the Ball State passing game and had a key 4th quarter pick that squashed any chance of a late Ball State comeback.
The most important thing that happened was Frohnapfel going down in the 4th quarter with a right leg injury. He was carted off the field and did not return to the game. If that injury is serious that is a serious blow to the Minutemen and to Blake who was having a standout year. Before leaving the game Frohnapfel had 424 yards on 28-44 passing and 2 picks.
Ball State continued to shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers and bad plays. This was summed up best when KeVonn Mabon fumbled a jet sweep during a strong Cardinal drive. Not only did UMass recover but Mabon was also knocked out of the game. That was Ball State's night in a nutshell.
Jack Milas struggled to get into a rhythm all night. His numbers were okay at best with 210 yards on 21-37 passing with one score and two interceptions. But it was the flow of the offense that he couldn't muster that was most concerning.
The running game also non-existent with only 69 yards compared to UMass' 145. Jahwan Edwards led the way for Ball State with 36 yards on 16 carries equaling a measly 2.3 yards per carry. Milas actually had the longest run of the game at 9 yards.
UMass continued their running back by committee with both Shadrach Abrokwah and Lorenzo Woodley sharing the bulk of the caries. They finished with 87 and 54 yards respectively and each added a touchdown. Both averaged over 4.5 yards a carry and were instrumental in maintaining the lead late in the game when Austin Whipple entered for the injured Frohnapfel.
Ball States drops to 3-7 and officially starts to look ahead to next year. They will however get their spirtits lifted with their next game against Eastern Michigan at home. UMass on the other hand will be waiting on the severity of Frohnapfel's injury. With a game next Tuesday at Akron that doesn't give the star quarterback much time to heal.
I would like to take this time to congratulate UMass on making it through a game without missing an extra point. Logan Laurent made all three of this attempts. He did miss a 34 yard field though. Baby steps UMass, baby steps.