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Celtics Live

109

102

Final

Buffalo 32, UMass 3

After breakthrough, UMass loses its way

BUFFALO — Good karma?

Consider it gone.

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Those positive vibes the University of Massachusetts generated last week by posting its first win of the season were washed away by a deluge that accompanied the 32-3 pasting suffered by the Minutemen against the University of Buffalo, before 18,707 at Alumni Stadium.

“I’m embarrassed about how we ended the day,” said UMass coach Charley Molnar. “Embarrassed not to score a touchdown. Embarrassed to lose by double digits. I’m embarrassed that we didn’t make a better accounting by our team today.”

UMass is now 1-6 (1-2 in the Mid-American Conference), and will have to hope for relief next week when the Minutemen welcome winless Western Michigan to Gillette Stadium.

“You can’t focus on one loss,” said running back Stacey Bedell. “That will mess your whole season up. You just have to shake it off. You just have to get mentally tougher.”

Both offenses were ineffective throughout the first half, after which Buffalo (5-2, 3-0) clutched a 13-3 advantage.

Neither team could manage a first down during the scoreless opening quarter.

The Bulls scuffled to a 13-0 lead by wrapping a pair of Patrick Clarke field goals around a 35-yard interception return by linebacker Khalil Mack.

It was the second pick-6 of the season by Mack, who at 6 feet 3 inches, 248 pounds is viewed by some draftniks as a potential first rounder in next year’s NFL draft.

“Initially,” said UMass quarterback A.J. Doyle, “I saw Mack drop off. I thought I’d have an opening in the middle of the field. I didn’t see him drop [back]. He just went underneath it, made an athletic play, and got into the end zone.”

Clarke’s first field goal, a 44-yarder, came on the first play of a second quarter that took nearly 50 minutes of real time to play.

Injuries to a pair of Bulls, guard Jasen Carlson and wide receiver Alex Neutz, accounted for prolonged delays on consecutive plays.

Doyle, who had trouble moving the Minutemen through most of the game, was 9 of 18 in the first half, including Mack’s interception, which put UMass in a 10-0 deficit with 10:13 remaining in the half.

Clarke added a 36-yard field goal, which was answered by a 42-yard boot by UMass kicker Blake Lucas seven seconds before halftime.

Matters never got better for the Minutemen.

UMass seemed poised to get untracked, when on its initial drive of the second half, Doyle led the Minutemen to the Buffalo 16, their deepest penetration of the game.

The series was fueled by Tajae Sharpe’s slick one-handed catch for 23 yards.

However, the drive sputtered two plays later when Doyle fumbled.

Buffalo then put the game away with 19 unanswered points, including a 5-yard TD run by Branden Oliver (216 yards on a school-record 43 carries). Oliver set Buffalo’s career rushing yardage record (3,203), eclipsing the previous mark of 3,140, held by James Starks, now of the Green Bay Packers.

The UMass cause was further hindered when starting tight end Rob Blanchflower was ejected midway through the second quarter. Blanchflower, the Minutemen’s second-leading receiver, was tossed for taking a swing at a Buffalo lineman, who was holding him by the ankle.

The Minutemen had difficulty with clock management, particularly in the opening quarter, when they were twice charged with delay of the game. They also were forced to burn two of their three first-half timeouts on their initial drive.

“We still have some work to do,” said Bedell. “We’ll get back to practice, watch some film, and get better as a team.”

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