- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Down two touchdowns early, Massachusetts rallied against sixth-ranked Notre Dame and closed within a point late in the first half.

Then the Minutemen ran out of rallies, falling 62-27 on Saturday.

“Obviously going into halftime we felt pretty good about it, but then they got those first two quick touchdowns in the second half and we figured, this is going to be a pretty tough hill to climb,” UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel said. “We were right there with them in the first half.”

Minutemen coach Mark Whipple was asked what he said to his team after Jamal Wilson scored on a 1-yard run with 6:44 left in the second quarter to cut the lead to 21-20.

“I don’t know. I don’t tell them to look at the score. I mean, are we going to take a picture with their iPhone? Let’s just go play the next play, that’s all,” he said.

The Irish were the ones making the plays after that, though, after Notre Dame punter Tyler Newsome pinned back Massachusetts, and returner C.J. Sanders got the Irish going.

After Newsome placed a 52-yard punt on the Massachusetts 1, the Fighting Irish defense held the Minutemen to a yard on three plays and Sanders answered with a 50-yard punt return. Sanders cut at the 35 to avoid two Minutemen and made another cut at the 10 before racing into the end zone with 3:21 left in the first half to give the Irish a 28-20 lead.

“The special team work was outstanding,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, pointing out Sanders especially. “He’s a very shifty runner. He’s got great vision. It was a big play. It gave us momentum, certainly.”

UMass safety Trey Dudley-Giles said it had the opposite effect for the Minutemen.

“It just killed our momentum,” he said.

DeShone Kizer threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Brown with 6 seconds left in the first half to give the Irish a 35-20 halftime lead. C.J. Prosise, who rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns, added a 16-yard scoring run and freshman Dexter Williams added a 14-yard TD run to break open the game.

Marquis Young had an 83-yard touchdown run for the Minutemen, and Sekai Lindsay and Wilson added 1-yard TD runs. Shakur Nesmith added a 33-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter.

Notre Dame improved to 4-0 for the second straight season, the third time in six seasons under Kelly. Massachusetts fell to 0-3 for the fourth straight season since moving up to the FBS level.

The 62 points were the most by the Irish since a 62-0 win over Rutgers in 1996 in Lou Holtz’s final home game as Notre Dame coach.

“Their varsity was better than our varsity, and their JV was a little better than our JV,” Whipple said. “We kind of put a little shock into them and woke them up, I guess, at the end of the second quarter.”

The Irish rushed for 457 yards, their fourth straight game of rushing for more than 200. Prosise became the first Notre Dame player with three straight 100-yard games since Darius Walker did it in 2005.

Massachusetts burned the Notre Dame defense for several big plays to keep the game closer than expected throughout most of the first half.

Frohnapfel was 20 of 40 passing for 233 yards with one interception and Tajae Sharpe had eight catches for 83 yards. Backup Ross Comis was 8-of-8 passing for 69 yards with a touchdown as the Minutemen finished with 450 yards total offense.

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