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Vanderbilt (2-2) handed UMass its fourth consecutive loss to start the 2013 season (and sixth straight dating back to last year) on Saturday at Gillette Stadium. On this occasion, the Minutemen managed to keep the game close until the final quarter, after a first half which was marred by sloppy offensive play on the part of both teams.
Vandy’s opening drive lasted just three plays before quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels threw a long pass that was picked off by defensive back Randall Jette. Massachusetts failed to capitalize, though, as QB A. J. Doyle fumbled a handoff at midfield, with defensive tackle Adam Butler recovering for the Commodores. The UMass defense stopped Vanderbilt on fourth down on the ensuing drive, but the ‘Dores would score later in the quarter on a 42-yard pass from Carta-Samuels to wide receiver Jonathan Krause.
The Minutemen answered with a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive of their own, which ended with a four-yard completion from Doyle to WR Tajae Sharpe. It was the second touchdown of the season for both Doyle and Sharpe, but it was also the last offensive output for UMass in the game. The defense forced another turnover on the next drive, when linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox recovered a Carta-Samuels fumble in the red zone, but again the offense couldn’t convert. Before halftime, kicker Carey Spear connected on a 32-yard field goal to give the Commodores a 10-7 lead that would hold until the fourth period.
While each of Massachusetts’s four second-half drives ended in a punt, Carta-Samuels led Vandy on two TD drives of more than 80 yards. Early in the fourth quarter, he threw his second TD pass of the game, an 11-yarder to WR Jordan Matthews. Running back Jerron Seymour iced the victory with a rushing TD from one yard out and less than five minutes to play.
Carta-Samuels finished the game 18-for-27 with 219 passing yards while Krause racked up 105 yards on six receptions. Doyle went 20-of-28 for 133 yards, and was also the team’s leading rusher with 29 yards on the ground.
With the loss, UMass is one of two 0-4 teams in the Mid-American Conference, the other being Western Michigan, who they’ll meet on October 26. For the time being, the Minutemen have next weekend off before they begin conference play. The Commodores, for their part, are in last place in the SEC East as their two losses have come against Southeastern Conference foes.
Next Minutemen game: October 5 @ Bowling Green (3-1), 3:30 pm ET