It was also no coincidence, and perhaps quite predictable, that rainbow splatters, Pride flags and LGBTQ+ public service announcements never permeated the field of game nor changed Liberty’s orientation.
Compared to its defense, the Minutemen’s offense performed quite decently, scoring a season high in points.
The hosts even led early, scoring on Belmont Hill graduate Greg Desrosier Jr.’s 53-yard run in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead. Liberty responded with a pair of touchdowns. A UMass field goal late in the second quarter put the Minutemen up 14-10, but Liberty had enough time to get back into the end zone before halftime.
Liberty passed for 259 yards to UMass’ 88. That and too many attacking commands deep in their own territory put the Minutemen at a disadvantage where the scoreline reflected the reality of the differences between the teams very well.
“Obviously it’s good to play at home, obviously it’s gotten off to a good start – any time you’re up 7-0 against that football team there, who’s just about to be in the Top 25,” said UMass head coach Don Brown. “I thought we came out with a lot of energy, played hard and made a few plays. Field position – that’s hard to overcome when you give your guys so many short fields to deal with defensively.
Between the glow of gold, red and orange foliage behind the stadium and the prevalence of rainbow colors, the game was played against a backdrop of classic fall football in a progressive New England and evolved, as the UMass athletics department kicked off its long-planned Pride Day. .
With visitors seemingly oblivious to Pride Day, its celebration was observed throughout the day.
Two tables near a stadium entrance offered LGTBQ+ information and support materials, as well as a purple pumpkin with a range of Starbursts and M&Ms to take away.
It was hard to tell if some fans were dressed in rainbow outerwear or tie-dyed Grateful Dead t-shirts, but they vastly outnumbered fans wearing UMass colors or jackets and sweatshirts. unaffiliated shirts.
For the pregame band performance, a squadron of 26 Pride flag bearers wearing maroon and silver-sequined pants joined the baton twirlers, cheerleaders and stern-faced honor guard.
After the roar of AC/DC’s “TNT,” a cheerleader waving the Pride flag led the charge onto the field with the Minutemen players.
Four students from the Stonewall Center and the campus Pride Alliance were named honorary captains, joining Liberty and UMass player captains on the 50-yard line for the pre-game draw.
Between commercials and replays, the ubiquitous still image on the dashboard featured the school’s logos against a rainbow background.
During the game, three different public service announcements were made via the video board, one noting that the school’s Pride Alliance is the oldest (1970) registered LGBTQ+ student organization in the country, which basketball player UMass Derrick Gordon became the first openly gay male Division 1 basketball player in the nation in 2014, and this Tuesday is National Coming Out Day.