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UMass starts strong, but wilts in second half to lose at Eastern Michigan

In the first half Saturday, UMass looked like they might not get scored on all game. The Minutemen forced a fumble, snagged an interception, and built a 10-point lead they expanded to 13 on the opening drive of the second half.

Things did not go the same way from there.

Eastern Michigan scored three touchdowns in four possessions as it roared back for a 20-13 win over UMass in Ypsilanti, Mich.

“I think our guys are competing as hard as they can compete,” UMass coach Don Brown said, “[It] didn’t go our way in the second half.”

A big factor in the comeback by Eastern Michigan (3-2) was discipline issues, as the Minutemen were called for two defensive holding penalties on third downs and a pass interference on a fourth, which Brown was vocal about.


“I got a bad taste in my mouth about those three DPIs,” Brown said. “Take a look at the film and tell me what you guys think.”

Redshirt junior Gino Campiotti got the starting nod after the Minutemen (1-4) used three different quarterbacks in their loss at Temple last week. He looked sharp in the first half, rushing up the middle for a 14-yard touchdown on a keeper to open the scoring after the Minutemen forced and recovered a fumble near midfield.

The defense continued to wreak havoc on EMU, as it forced two more punts before Jalen Mackie intercepted quarterback Austin Smith and then ran a speed option, lateraling the ball to Jayden Mahoney, who picked up 15 more yards. Though it resulted in a three-and-out, UMass had momentum, and Cameron Carson followed a 30-yard field goal late in the first half with a 47-yarder to make it 13-0 with 12:35 left in the third quarter.

From there, the offense went dormant, held without a first down its next four possessions and to just 58 yards the rest of the game. Eastern Michigan put together drives of 75, 65, and 65 yards for its points, with UMass reaching the EMU 30-yard line on its final possession before a stuffed fourth-and-1 ended their hopes.


Campiotti made an impact on the ground with 118 yards rushing, but in the air completed just 8-of-18 passes for 87 yards and an interception.

“We planned on going with Gino as long as we could. I thought he played pretty darn well,” Brown said. “I thought we took good strides today offensively, and it gave us a chance to be in the football game throughout the entire game.”

Eamonn Ryan can be reached at eamonn.ryan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @eamonn_ryan41.