The UConn men beat N.H., and the women overpower Purdue.
EAST HARTFORD – In a season that seemed to get uglier with each passing week, UConn saved one of its most lopsided losses for last.
The Huskies fell 57-7 to Temple on Saturday at Rentschler Field, sealing the program’s first onewin season since 1977. It was UConn’s eighth loss of the season by at least 30 points and its 16th straight defeat against an FBS opponent.
“2018 is over; 2019 starts tomorrow,” coach Randy Edsall said after the game. “And guys have to have a resolve to work and want to get bigger, faster, stronger.”
Unlike in past weeks, when UConn’s defense drew the bulk of blame for the team’s struggles, Saturday’s loss was a true allaround effort. The Huskies’ offense turned over the ball four times and failed to score after its opening drive. Their special teams allowed a 99-yard kickoff-return touchdown. And yes, their defense appeared porous as ever, ceding more than 500 total yards for the 11th time this season.
When Temple’s Will Mobley kicked a 27-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter, UConn had officially allowed more points per game over a full season (50.41) than any FBS team since World War I. It was just the latest bit of ignominy for a defense that had already given up more yards than
any FBS team in history.
After 12 games packed with brutal moments, one stretch during the second quarter may have represented a new low.
First, quarterback David Pindell lofted a pass right into a defender’s arms for an interception, teeing up a Temple touchdown. On UConn’s next offensive play, the quarterback whiffed on a slightly high snap, and Temple recovered inside the Huskies 5-yard line. When UConn got the ball back (following an Owls field goal), running back Kevin Mensah dropped the ball on first down, Pindell dropped the ball on second down and Pindell tossed a pick-six on third down.
Over five offensive plays, UConn had coughed up three fumbles, thrown two interceptions and turned over the ball three times.
Edsall and Pindell both viewed that sequence, particularly Pindell’s first interception, as a turning point.
“It seemed like we got down after I threw that pick,” Pindell said. “It seemed like the whole team got down.”
“After that, the air just went out of the balloon,” Edsall said. “We didn’t have a lot of resolve to come back from that. And that’s just something that wasn’t acceptable.”
Pindell, who carried UConn’s offense for much of the season, was done in Saturday by both a balky ankle and a rash of poor decision-making. He completed 12 of 23 passes for 89 yards, one touchdown (a 4-yard pass to Keyion Dixon in the first quarter) and three interceptions, while rushing for only 24 yards.
In the third quarter, UConn turned to freshman quarterback Steven Krajewski, who went 2of-3 for 11 yards, mainly handing the ball to fellow freshman Dante Black.
Mensah finished with 94 yards rushing on 24 carries, passing 1,000 for the season. Safety Oneil Robinson provided a rare defensive highlight, with a secondquarter interception.
The play of the game may have belonged to Temple kick returner (and Kingswood Oxford grad) Isaiah Wright, who fielded a first-quarter kickoff at the goal line and burst through the UConn coverage for a 99-yard return touchdown. Wright also scored on an 18-yard rush on Temple’s first drive of the game.
Temple (8-4, 7-1 in the AAC) spread around its 516 yards of total offense, with four different ball carriers rushing for at least 40 yards each and nine different receivers making at least one catch. Owls quarterback Frank Nutile completed 9 of 12 passes for 184 yards.
With UConn’s season now over, Edsall will leave town on a recruiting trip, seeking a group of players who might make the 2019 Huskies better than the 2018 version. UConn will return almost its entire defense next year but will lose several key offensive weapons, including Pindell, receiver Hergy Mayala, center Ryan Crozier and tight end Aaron McLean.
UConn players said they’ll remember this season’s pain as they prepare for next year and beyond.
“You definitely have to take it with you,” defensive tackle Caleb Thomas said. “You’ve got to keep it moving, but you’ve got to keep this in the back of your mind. You don’t want to feel this again.”
UConn offensive lineman Cam DeGeorge and Temple’s Karamo Dioubate battle as Temple’s Christian Braswell brings down UConn’s Dante Black on a run attempt in the fourth quarter.