COLUMBIA, Mo. The University of Connecticut football team came up just a few points short on Saturday from beating No. 22 Missouri. The Tigers hung on for a 9-6 lead over UConn before a crowd of 70,079 at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium.
The Huskies drop to 2-1 on the season while the Tigers improve to 3-0.
UConn was driving in the final moments of the game going for the victory. The Huskies faced a fourth-and-four with 45 seconds left and, in field goal formation, passed the ball which resulted the first career interception for safety Anthony Sherrils.
''Anthony made a great play,'' Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. ''He has been doing really well. He is an extraordinary athlete that has great speed and acceleration.''
Sherrils said the Missouri defense sensed that a fake was a possibility. ''We were anticipating it,'' Sherrils said. ''We backed up off the line to get a good look at it. The tight end released, and I knew it was a fake.''
Sherrils returned the interception 50 yards to the UConn 22 to seal the Tiger victory He also had a fumble recovery in the second quarter.
''Credit to Missouri and their staff and their players for fighting hard for four quarters,'' UConn coach Bob Diaco said. ''A game like that, it is one play. One play and it's in overtime. One play and it's a win.''
UConn redshirt sophomore quarterback Bryant Shirreffs (Jefferson, Ga.) was 17 of 26 for 156 yards and ran 14 times for 29 yards. The Huskies were 1 of 3 on fourth-down plays, converting on a 13-yard run by redshirt junior Justin Wain (Wilmington, N.C.) off a fake punt.
Missouri took a 2-0 lead in first-quarter on a safety after Clarence Greene blocked a punt that went out of the end zone.
UConn scored its only point on the day when sophomore Ron Johnson (Naples, Fla.) scored on a six-yard run with 4:14 left in the first quarter to make it 6-2 Huskies. The big play of that five-play-35 yard drive was a 29-yard pass from Shirreffs to junior Noel Thomas (Norwalk, Conn.) that put the ball at the Missouri six.
The drive was set up by a nifty interception by redshirt junior cornerback Jhavon Williams (Delray Beach, Fla.).
The 6-2 Husky lead held up through halftime and into the third quarter, but Mizzou scored a touchdown on a fourth and goal two-yard run by quarterback Maty Mauk that completed a 15 play-68 yard drive with 5:03 left in the third quarter. The Tigers converted three third down plays in that drive and the fourth down scoring play.
Thomas had seven receptions for the Huskies for 86 yards while Shirreffs led UConn in rushing with 29 yards.
Redshirt sophomore Junior Joseph (Sinking Springs, Pa.) led UConn in tackles with nine as ten different Husky player registered tackles for a loss.
Mauk completed 14 of 22 passes for 145 yards and an interception for the Tigers. Running back Ish Witter made his first career start for Missouri and carried the 17 times for 54 yards.
''We can't come out sluggish,'' Mauk said. ''You can drive all you want and put up yards, but if you're not scoring points, that's what it comes down to."
The Huskies return to action next Saturday when the play host to Navy at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. Navy is a newcomer to the American Athletic Conference this season and the game is the conference opener for the Huskies.