Fred Payton did not throw much, but made his few passes count.
The freshman quarterback hit Malcolm Williams in stride on a 61-yard touchdown pass and would later connect with Torrance Marable on a 21-yard score to help Coastal Carolina to a 24-13 win over host UMass.
The Chanticleer defense limited the high-powered Minutemen defense to a pair of first half field goals and clamped down when it mattered most.
Payton was 5-for-7 with 107 passing yards and the two touchdowns in somewhat of a relief appearance for Kilton Anderson, who seemed to tweak his injured ankle in the first half.
Marcus Outlow had a rushing touchdown and 91 yards on the ground. Coastal tallied 279 yards at about 5.4 yards a play - an improvement for the Minutemen, but effective enough to gain key first downs for the Chanticleers.
UMass offense fails to gain traction
The defense has deservedly taken a large portion of flak this season.
The defensive effort this past Saturday, however, was solid. The defense allowed only three points and continually found ways to plug those troublesome running lanes.
They also forced two turnovers to hault drives. Bryton Barr gobbled up a fumble caused by Leon Flanagan Jr. and Chinedu Ogbonna picked off Payton and gave the UMass offense the ball back at midfield with about a minute to go in the first half.
Zero points came from the two takeaways.
The Chanticleers gave up plenty of yardage, but didn’t allow a touchdown until the third quarter when Andrew Ford hit Sadiq Palmer for a 22-yard touchdown pass.
However, the Chanticleers would answer right back on the Williams (who finished with four catches, 153 yards and the TD) touchdown catch to regain the lead, 17-13 - a lead they would not relinquish.
Jave Brown made the play of the game when UMass went for it on fourth and four at the Coastal 17-yard-line. Brown, blitzing from off the edge, brought Ford down to end the UMass threat.
The final stats are a bit of fool’s gold for UMass. Andrew Ford broke 300 yards passing, spreading the ball mainly to his two top targets, Andy Isabella (10 catches, 174 yards) and Palmer (seven catches, 139 yards and a touchdown). Even without starting running back Marquis Young, UMass was efficient on the ground.
Ultimately, drives between the 20s were decent, but stalled out.
Sloppy first half
The two teams traded field goals on their opening drives. The rest of the half is not destined for the end-of-the-year highlight package.
Normally reliable Massimo Biscardi missed two field goals for Coastal Carolina. The final two drives of the first half ended in turnovers.
UMass led at the half 6-3 thanks to a second Cooper Garcia field goal. However, a fumble on the kickoff following Coastal’s lone first half field goal and a fumble by Isabella on the end of a 20-yard catch inside the Chanticleer 10-yard-line prevented UMass from stretching their lead.
For Coastal Carolina, the remainder of their Sun Belt schedule is a bit daunting.
After a visit to Georgia State, a three-game homestand against newly-ranked Appalchian State, Arkansas State and Georgia Southern looks to be the toughest stretch of the year. They will probably need to squeeze a win from this group of games to become bowl eligible.
For UMass, bowl eligibility is not impossible, but is unrealistic. It will be interesting to see how Coach Mark Whipple handles a very senior-laden personnel grouping.
Does he start working in underclassmen more and more? Or does he let the seniors ride out the string?
If you like offense, UMass travels to Storrs on Saturday for a showdown with the Huskies.
A win would go a long way towards restoring some pride - and maybe just give them a couple brownie points on the New England recruiting trail.