UMass football welcomes Stony Brook for latest home opener since 2005

  • Don Brown and the UMass football team will play a home game for the first time this season when the Minutemen host Stony Brook at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • The UMass football team will play a home game for the first time this season when the Minutemen host Stony Brook at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/16/2022 4:08:37 PM
Modified: 9/16/2022 4:08:05 PM

AMHERST – Crisper air than is accustomed will welcome the UMass football team to McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

The Minutemen will host FCS squad Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Amherst (ESPN3) in their third game of the season. UMass (0-2) hasn’t played its first home game that late since 2005.

The season began with two lopsided losses to bowl contenders Tulane and Toledo. Saturday’s contest against the Seawolves represents an opportunity to end an eight-game losing streak, tied for the nation’s longest. It’s also UMass’ only home game among its first five. The Minutemen aren’t at home again until Oct. 8.

Saturday will also mark the home debut for UMass coach Don Brown in this era. He hasn’t led the Minutemen on the field at McGuirk since the 2008 season finale, a win over Hofstra. Nostalgia hasn’t had much place in the Minutemen’s game prep, however.

“I haven't had a chance to really even think about it, to be honest with you. I'm more concerned about trying to give us the impetus to have a great performance,” Brown said. “That's really what I'm focused on.”

Great performances from maroon jerseys haven’t graced McGuirk’s turf, replaced new this summer, often in recent years. UMass won just one of its six home games last season, which included losses to FCS foes Rhode Island and Maine that catalyzed the regime change. The Minutemen are 14-40 at home since moving up to the FBS level – some of those home games were at Gillette Stadium in the early parts of the transition. McGuirk became the team’s full-time home again in 2017.

“These guys want to win. They're fighting their a** off. They've been practicing. They've been around me, the mat room, all that stuff, since February,” Brown said. “They want to win a game, and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to put them in the best situation possible of winning that game.”

The suggestion of overlooking an FCS opponent is no longer relevant for the Minutemen. UMass has lost its last three games against teams from that classification.

“Last year we lost to Maine and Rhode Island, and that was pretty bad,” defensive back Javon Batten said. “But this year, we're not really focused on that. We're just focused on getting the wins this year.”

Stony Brook (0-1) has been preparing for UMass for the past two weeks after a bye. The Seawolves lost their opener 35-14 against Rhode Island on Sept. 1. They went 5-6 last season and split two one-score games with the FCS foes that triumphed in McGuirk.

UMass has won all three previous meetings against Stony Brook, all of which came between two FCS programs. Stony Brook is 1-11 against FBS teams in its history.

The Seawolves will try to run the ball. Redshirt senior running back Ty Son Lawton was named to the College Football Performance Awards FCS National Performer of the Year Trophy Watch List, one of just 38 members. He ran for 46 yards against the Rams and accumulated a CAA-leading 1,088 yards on the ground last season while scoring 10 touchdowns.

“They like to run the ball between the tackles. They’re a vertical run team, obviously, struggling in the throw game, playing two quarterbacks,” Brown said.

Joshua Zamot and Daron Bryden split time against Rhode Island. Zamot led the way with six completions and 74 yards through the air but threw an interception. He also led Stony Brook with 74 yards on the ground. Bryden was intercepted twice and gained just nine yards on eight attempts. They’re vying to succeed longtime signal caller Tyquel Fields, who held the reins over the past few seasons.

“They're similar and they're trying to work out the quarterback play,” Brown said. “They're trying to work out their quarterback position, as well.”

UMass has flipped between last year’s starter Brady Olson and junior college transfer Gino Campiotti. Campiotti has led the Minutemen to both of their touchdown drives and is the team’s top rusher with 125 yards. He’s thrown for 39 yards compared to Olson’s 26 but has tossed two  interceptions while Olson has only been picked off once.

The Minutemen aim to run the ball as well and have gained at least 200 yards in each game. They’re averaging under four yards per carry (3.83) on 112 attempts.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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