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UB SUFFERS FROM MASSIVE BREAKDOWNS IN 51-27 LOSS TO UMASS

There was no lack of blame to share in the wake of the 51-27 rout the UB Bulls were handed by the University of Massachusetts.

There always is with shellackings of this magnitude.

When asked to name one primary factor in his team's meltdown, Bulls coach Craig Cirbus spun off a list of five, all of them pure "x's" and "o's."

"Taking on blocks, getting off blocks, open-field tackling, playing leverage, ball security," he said. Then, coming up for air, he asked, "Do you want me to continue?"

Without any prompting, he did.

"I called an absolute horrible last two series of the first half," he said. "It was terrible clock management, and that alone is enough to hurt this young football team. They may have doubted me at halftime."

In fact, Cirbus could have scrutinized virtually every department, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

The 2-2 Bulls, who aspire to lift their program to 1-A status for next season, surrendered 591 yards of total offense to a 2-1 Minuteman team that is generally rated no better than fifth in the 1-AA Atlantic-10 League. UMass tailback Marcel Shipp accounted for 221 yards (on 26 carries), 14 of them on the touchdown run in the game's opening moments that lit the fuse on this offensive powderkeg.

It was also the fifth time in the past two seasons that the UB defense has been torched for 50 points or more.

For the Bulls' part, they received great production from receiver Drew Haddad, who tied a career high by catching 11 passes from quarterback Chad Salisbury for 173 yards. The biggest of those may have been Salisbury's 29-yard touchdown throw, which brought them to within 21-20 midway through the second period.

But the Bulls also coughed up the ball four times, which UMass cashed in for 24 points -- the margin of victory.

"We really played a horrible football game," said Cirbus. "It was such a breakdown in fundamentals, which is surprising for this football team, because if there is one thing we work on, it's fundamentals."

Shipp and tight end Kerry Taylor, who caught a 9-yard TD pass from quarterback Todd Bankhead, staked the Minutemen to a 14-0 lead.

But the Bulls found the UMass defense to be as porous as their own and clawed their way back into a tie, 14-14.

Salisbury, who completed 27 of 40 passes for 375 yards, drove his team 84 yards on 12 plays. He hit on 6 of 8 passes, including a 12-yard bullet to Kali Watkins (seven catches, 114 yards) in the back of the end zone. The point-after attempt was botched by a poor centering snap. On their next series, the Bulls ran effectively, covering 66 yards on five carries, highlighted by a 30-yard burst up the middle by fullback Josh Roth. Tailback Derrick Gordon polished off the drive with a 12-yard run.

In the second period, UB regained the ball and was driving inside the Minuteman 35 when Roth was stripped of the ball and UMass safety Jerard White recovered at the 40.

On the next play, UMass shocked the Bulls on a reverse, as receiver Eddie Bowman took a handoff from Shipp, then fired the ball downfield to Jimmy Moore, who was behind the secondary. Moore hauled the ball in at the 20 and took it in from there.

"I'm sure that was a back-breaker for them," said Minuteman coach Mark Whipple, who took over this year after successful stints at New Haven and Brown.

It proved to be just that.

The Bulls rallied briefly when Haddad scored with 6:08 left in the half. But Bankhead threw for two more scores before halftime to put the Minutemen up 35-20. UB never seriously threatened after that.