Connecticut Post (Sunday)
Skid over: UConn beats Yale for 1st win since 2019
EAST HARTFORD — At long last, a win.
The UConn football team outlasted neighboring Yale 21-15 Saturday at Rentschler Field in the teams’ first meeting since 1998, snapping a losing streak that had spanned 11 games and nearly two calendar years.
The product wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but it was a victory, and the Huskies
will take every one of those they can get these days.
“We did a lot of good things, and we did a lot of bad things that we need to focus on moving forward,” quarterback Steven Krajewski said. “But it’s definitely a really good feeling to get that first one.”
It’s a feeling UConn (1-7) hadn’t felt since Oct. 26, 2019 when it beat UMass 56-35. The Huskies, who had already lost to one FCS school this season in Holy Cross, entered the day as one of just three winless FBS teams (Arizona,
For a while, it seemed it’d come easy. The Huskies had built a 21-0 lead early in the third quarter, and their much-maligned defense was humming. But Yale (2-3) managed to make it interesting.
Chase Nenad’s 60-yard touchdown catch cut it to 21-15 with 4:30 left, and the Bulldogs’ last drive reached the UConn 30 before culminating with an interception by Tui Faumuina-Brown on the game’s final untimed play.
“We’d like to have more points in the second half, but we got what we needed to get the win,” said interim coach Lou Spanos, who returned after missing last week’s loss to UMass because of COVID-19.
Tre Wortham (two) and Durante Jones secured the Huskies’ other three interceptions.
“We left the game to chance,” Yale coach Tony Reno said. “That’s what happens you leave things to chance. You rely on the last play to take a shot and make a play to win the game. We didn’t play well offensively. If we had
played well offensively, up to our standards, the game would’ve been different.”
UConn again started slowly on offense, gaining a measly 37 yards and two first downs in the first quarter. But a 63-yard touchdown pass from Krajewski to wide receiver Keelan Marion late in the second quarter gave the Huskies their first lead at 7-0, and they woke up — albeit briefly — from there.
Krajewski (21-32, 199 yards) threw another touchdown later in the half, a 14-yarder to Kevens Clericus, to make it 14-0. The redshirt sophomore also ran for 20-yard score on the Huskies’ opening drive of the third quarter.
Kevin Mensah led UConn with 55 yards rushing on 12 carries.
“We know their safeties like to be aggressive,” Krajewski said. “That was part of the game plan that we had talked about and prepared for. That’s something that we saw on film and we studied, and we talked about and repped it at practice. It ended up working out for us. We were able to take advantage and create some big plays.”
Jack Bosman got Yale on the board with a 45-yard field goal early in the third, and Zane Dudek added a 3-yard run to trim it to 21-9. The Bulldogs missed the ensuing two-point conversion attempt.
Sophomore Nolan Grooms, who replaced Griffin O’Connor to begin the second half, threw for 132 yards on 8-of-31 passing and ran for 67 more.
“We had scoring opportunities in the first half we let go by,” said Reno, whose team punted on five of its first eight possessions. “We had some guys open. We were just missing. We weren’t moving the ball the way we wanted to. … (Grooms) did a really nice job and brought us back.”
But the Huskies held on, securing their first victory in 721 days while also avoiding the embarrassing prospect of a winless season.
UConn hosts Middle Tennessee Friday before a two-week bye. Yale will be back home next Saturday to face Penn.
Yale maintains a 32-18 edge in the series, though UConn is 11-1 in the last 12 matchups.
Note: UConn tight end Jay Rose did not play (COVID protocol). The Southington native has 10 catches for 157 yards and one touchdown on the season.