Minute…MASHED

BROOKLINE – It took two coaches, 16 games, and almost 19 years, but they finally did it.

Northeastern’s defense allowed a paltry 26 yards on the ground and returned two Jeff Krohn interceptions for touchdowns in the third quarter in a 42-17 defrocking of Bay State nemesis UMASS Amherst (2-1, 0-1 Atlantic 10). The Huskies (3-0, 1-0 A-10), who were 17th in the USA TODAY/ESPN Division I-AA polls as of September 14, defeated the Minutemen for the first time since November 19, 1983.

Sophomore quarterback Shawn Brady went 10-19 while throwing for 224 yards and two scores, facilitating a Husky barrage that exploded for 28 points in the third quarter. The bloodhound backfield committee of Anthony Riley, William Griffin, Tim Gale, and Peter Harris was no slouch either, combining for 124 yards on the ground against a surprisingly weak Massachusetts run defense.

“It was a big game emotionally, but we had to keep the team focused,” said head coach Don Brown, who served as the UMass defensive coordinator during their 1998 national championship season.

Northeastern pounced on UMASS at the start of the second half, banging out a five-play, 65-yard trek in 90 seconds. Gale’s (86 yards total offense) one-yard plunge made the score 14-3, and, according to UMASS head man Mark Whipple, was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

“They came out and played much better in the third quarter and that was the difference. It took the wind out of us,” he said.

It was all downhill for the soldiers of Amherst from that point on. The next Northeastern drive ended with a Brady screen pass to Quintin Mitchell (three catches, 57 yards), who cut through a beleaguered secondary to make the score 21-3 with 9:40 left in the period. Senior safety Anthony Nolen would then pick off Krohn at the 40-yard line, and run it back 60 more to put NU ahead 28-3 after another Miro Kesic kick.

Northeastern struck out on their next possession, going three and out before UMASS would score on a 72-yard drive. Krohn connected with Adrian Zullo (four catches, 75 yards) on a 35-yard touchdown pass. After taking the ball back from NU, Massachusetts drove deep into Husky territory. On a third-and-five from the NU six-yard line, Krohn dropped back and threw in the direction of tight end Mike Douglas. Senior linebacker Neil Anderson stepped in front of the pass and tipped it to A-10 defensive player of the week Adam Walter (nine tackles, two interceptions), who ran it back 98 yards to put Northeastern ahead 35-10.

Scoring concluded when Krohn threw his final touchdown, a 12-yarder to Neil Brown with 12:38 left in the game. The Huskies responded with an 8-yard strike from Brady to Cody Thompson that was set up by Abrams’ second interception.

Still, the game had the makings of an epic struggle in the beginning. NU established the running game early as redshirt freshman Riley (14 carries, 67 yards) capped off a nine play, 86-yard drive with a beautiful 18-yard run, bouncing off defenders before breaking to the outside. A Kesic point after touchdown made the score 7-0 at the 9:05 mark in the first quarter. UMASS then responded with a methodical 18-play, 52-yard drive that concluded with a 44-yard field goal conversion by Minuteman kicker Doug White.

The game had numerous implications from the onset. It was the first league game for both teams, and NU entered the contest nationally ranked for the first time in several years. Despite all of the hype involved with the contest, however, Brown remained gracious in victory.

“It was a hard-fought football game by two good teams. I’m very proud of my football team, the way we responded,” he said. “Our whole focus in the A-10 was to play well, [and] I was worried about the bye week.”

Sophomore quarterback Shawn Brady was more revealing in his assessment of the victory.

“This win is huge,” he stated. “We didn’t stress it [entering Saturday], but we wanted it bad. This is one of the biggest ones yet.”

Keeping the team focused was not a problem. Keeping Arizona State transfer Krohn under wraps was, however, as he threw for 401 yards. None of this surprised Northeastern, and Brown’s aggressive, gambling attack paid dividends for the home team.

“We had a lot of trouble with the no huddle in the first half, but we made adjustments in the second,” said Brown.

“If Krohn sits back there, it’s over. We knew we had to rush him.”

Senior co-captain Steve Anzalone (six tackles. one sack) agreed, and knew his team would buckle down after a shaky first half.

“We have a lot of cool guys that have been together for a while,” he said. “We know when to stick together and buckle down; after the first, we stuck together.”

Notes: Northeastern last defeated Massachusetts on November 19, 1983 in the last game of the season, a 31-14 win under head coach Paul Pawlak…Krohn’s 401 yards passing are the second-highest single-game total in school history…Northeastern is 3-0 for the first time since 1967, when coach Joe Zabilski’s dogs started the season 5-0 en route to a 7-1 campaign…The win blocked UMASS head man Mark Whipple’s bid to break a tie for sixth place on the all-time list for Massachusetts coaching victories. He needs four more wins to take sole possession of third place…The win marks the first time in eight tries that Northeastern beat UMASS in A-10 play…After having two 100-yard rushers in their first two games, the Minutemen combined for 26…The 42 points scored were the most ever in a league game in program history, spanning 74 games.

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