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UMass Impresses in Bowl Win

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UMass Impresses in Bowl Win

The University of Massachusetts pulled off more than an upset, but a drastic upset as the #47 Minutemen defeated the ACRL runner-up, #33 North Carolina State, 41-10 Friday evening at the ACRC Bowl Series in Charlotte, NC.

On a somewhat slick field made so by a rainy week, UMass adjusted the better to the conditions. Using their powerful forward pack, led by hard-running lock Mike Ruther, and augmented by No. 8 Thomas Thekaekara, UMass moved the ball more successfully, and sent Ruther thundering over twice in the first half.

The UMass backs - centers Joe Joseph and Max Pomeranz, and wing Alex Mejia especially - did well to ask questions of the NC State defense, but it was more about UMass winning their lineouts, and disrupting the Wolfpack’s. NC State got into penalty trouble and UMass just finished off breaks by putting their forwards through, accelerating onto flat passes.

Thekaekara stretched over for another Umass try in the first half, and then in the second half flanker Joe Hastry was put through.

NC State replied in the second half with tries from Chris Schnupper and Graham Hitch, but they could not fully execute their game plan. They wanted flyhalf Florent Prince to set the pace and get Rasha Alston to break through. But the Wolfpack passes just hit the ground way too much, and UMass made penalties almost irrelevant because the Minutemen could steal the NC State lineout throws.

Hastry scored two more tries, both the result of mauls, and UMass rolled.

Along with the tries, Hastry was all over as a support runner and tackler.

“We have a lot of athletes on the team and we like to fly around the field, so that’s what I wanted to do,” said Hastry. “This was my last game ever [for UMass] and I wanted to put everything I had into it.”

UMass executed their game plan and thumped it up the middle and offloaded. And with Joseph Gifford winning lineouts, they had a lot of ball.

“Winning the lineouts was big, we practice that a lot,” said Hastry. “We pride ourselves on that, and we also pride ourselves on our fitness.”

UMass also made a statement for the ECRC conference. Having finished 5-3 in the ECRC and 4th in the conference, the Minutemen wanted to show that their conference is a tough one.

“Look around at how the BC guys and AIC guys are here supporting us; we hate each other through the season but we support each other here because we want to show that the ECRC is no joke.”

No one was laughing, but there were plenty of UMass players smiling.