Sept. 3, 2011
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Freshman running back Lyle McCombs(Staten Island, NY) rushed for 141 yards and four touchdowns in his first collegiate game as the University of Connecticut football team won their 2011 season opener, 35-3, over Fordham Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 34,562 at Rentschler Field.
The game marked the Connecticut debut for head coach Paul Pasqualoni, who tied Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech for the most wins by a BIG EAST coach. They both have 108 victories. Pasqualoni was the first Connecticut football coach to win his debut since 1923.
The Huskies initial drive ended in a punt after two first downs, but on their second possession began to force their will on their FCS opponent after forcing a Fordham three-and-out. A six-play, 58-yard drive was capped by a McCombs two-yard run. The key play on the drive was a 24-yard pass from Johnny McEntee (Fullerton, Calif.) to Isiah Moore(Cambridge, Mass.).
The Huskies started the redshirt junior McEntee, but Pasqualoni played three signal callers in the contest. Redshirt freshman Scott McCummings (Natick, Mass.) and true freshman Michael Nebrich(Burke, Va.) both played well in their Connecticut unveilings.
Early in the second quarter, the Huskies took over from their own 20 and McCombs had his first big play from scrimmage, rambling 60 yards before being caught at the Ram two-yard line. Two plays later, McCombs scored from the one and Connecticut had a 14-0 lead.
The Connecticut defense, which was spectacular all day, got its first turnover of the season when redshirt freshman safety Byron Jones (New Britain, Conn.) picked off a Peter Maetzold pass. On the next play from scrimmage, McCummings hit redshirt junior tight end Ryan Griffin(Londonderry, N.H.) with a beautiful 55-yard catch-and-run off of play action to put the Huskies ahead by three scores.
The Huskies kept that 21-0 lead until midway through the third quarter when McCombs capped drives with scoring runs of five- and one-yard. McCombs' four touchdowns was the first time a Connecticut footballer achieved that feat since Jordan Todmanturned the trick against Cincinnati in 2009.
McEntee completed eight-of-12 passes for 113 yards, while Nebrich was three-of-eight, for 60 yards and one interception. The McCummings scoring pass to Griffin was his only attempt of the game. Griffin set a career-standard with his 97 receiving yards.
The Connecticut defense held the Rams to just 169 total yards of offense and was led by redshirt junior linebacker Jory Johnson(Mobile, Ala.), who had 11 tackles. Redshirt junior defensive end Teddy Jennings (Dayton, Ohio) had 2.5 tackles for loss.
The Huskies return to action next Saturday, September 10 when they travel to Nashville, Tenn. to play Vanderbilt. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by SNY.