By Sports Editor Tom Griffin
The crippled Corsairs found themselves on the losing end of an offensive shootout against Massachusetts Maritime.
Spotting the Buccaneers three touchdowns by the start of the third quarter, the UMassD offense did well to crawl out of a 21-point deficit. Freshman quarterback Ryan Qualey, in his first start as a Corsair, made quick work of the Mass Maritime secondary.
Under the right circumstances, the pocket-passer threw for 214 yards on the afternoon, including two touchdowns through the air to his favorite target, Abbi Bamgbose. Appearing far less raw compared to his nearly full game appearance against Western Connecticut State the week prior, Qualey minimized mistakes in this outing, giving up a single interception against his two scores.
The offensive line, though a thankless job, did Qualey and the Corsairs no favors within the pocket. Where penalties didn’t leave drives dead in the water, their shortcomings stalled out offensive efficiency and resulted in more punts than scores. Taking three sacks and hurried into incompletions on a total of nine attempts, Qualey arguably spent more time as shot-caller running for his life than making calm reads.
The defense, for what it’s worth, bent often and broke critically. The Corsairs allowed Mass Maritime a 200-yard running game, with the Buccaneers’ Matt Long rushing for 157 yards and finding the endzone three times. Mental lapses gave way for the Buccaneers to rack up big plays and high-impact scoring drives, including a 79-yard rush to the house and an 82-yard reception that left the Corsairs trailing by 14 at the half.
Given the statistical efficiency of the Corsairs’ next-man-up skill positions, the flaws of the UMassD team extend beyond a banged-up roster and absent stars. Qualey and Bamgbose found a way to move the rock for eighteen first downs when offered a stable pocket, but an overall lack of finish plagued the entire offensive unit. The Corsairs converted just one of their fifteen total third down attempts. Of four fourth-down tries, all of them failed.
This loss resulted in a huge turnaround within the MASCAC standings. While previously tied for third, the Corsairs have fallen into a three-way tie for fourth between Mass Maritime and Plymouth State. Standing at 4-3 within their conference, winning their last MASCAC game is necessary for a healthy postseason berth.
The Corsairs are set to play their last regular season game on the road against Westfield State.