|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
UMass never really stood a chance against MAC East-leading Buffalo (5-2), getting manhandled on its trip to upstate New York and dropping to 1-6 on the season. The offense, as has typically been the case this year, was particularly listless in the loss.
The Massachusetts defense managed to hold off the Bulls’ O throughout a scoreless first quarter, but Buffalo got on the board early in the second with a 44-yard field goal by kicker Patrick Clarke. Later in the same period, linebacker Khalil Mack intercepted an A. J. Doyle pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, and Clarke’s second FG, from 36 yards, gave Buffalo a 13-0 lead. Blake Lucas put the Minutemen on the board with a 42-yard FG of his own as time expired on the first half.
Clarke scored a 27-yard chippy on the Bulls’ first possession of the second half, and Doyle marched UMass down to the red zone before turning the ball over on a fumble. Buffalo wasn’t able to capitalize, as Clarke missed on a 43-yard FG attempt, but the third quarter ended with Massachusetts running back Jamal Wilson being tackled in his own end zone for a safety and an 18-3 Buffalo lead.
The Bulls got their first offensive TD of the game on their first drive of the fourth quarter, when quarterback Joe Licata found wide receiver Fred Lee for a seven-yard score. On the ensuing drive, Doyle once again led the offense into Buffalo territory, but couldn’t get a first down on 4th & 6 from the 33-yard line and the Minutemen came up empty. RB Branden Oliver but the bow on a 10-play, 67-yard drive with a five-yard TD, and Massachusetts’s last drive ended with another Doyle fumble with less than two minutes to play.
Licata went 18-for-27 for 167 passing yards, but the real star for Buffalo was Oliver, who racked up 216 yards on 43 carries. Doyle was 14-of-28 passing for 162 yards. UMass fell to 1-2 in Mid-American Conference play, and is in fourth place in the East Division, two games behind Buffalo and Bowling Green. Three of their next four games are against teams with losing records, and each of their next three will be at home.
Next Minutemen game: October 26 vs. Western Michigan (0-8), 3 pm ET