ORLANDO, Fla. - Redshirt sophomore quarterback Bryan Shirreffs (Jefferson, Ga.) threw for 256 yards and a touchdown and ran for another while sophomore running back Arkeel Newsome (Ansonia, Conn.) rushed for two more scores as the UConn football team defeated UCF by a 40-13 score before a crowd of 26,669 at Bright House Networks Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Huskies improve to 3-3 on the season and 1-1 in American Athletic Conference while the Knights fall of 0-6 and 0-2.
Shirreffs posted his fourth 200-yard passing game in his first six career starts despite being sacked five times. He also took advantage of the short field set up by UCF turnovers - three Huskies scoring drives started within the UCF 35.
Shirreffs generated two scores in the final 57 seconds of the first half that helped the Huskies turn a 9-3 lead into a 22-3 advantage. Shirreffs plowed in on a one-yard keeper two plays after redshirt junior cornerback Jhavon Williams' (Delray Beach, Fla.) 19-yard interception put the ball on the UCF 9.
Redshirt junior safety Obi Melifonwu (South Grafton, Mass.) then had an interception and Shirreffs connected with junior wide receiver Noel Thomas (Norwalk, Conn.) for a 16-yard touchdown with 49 seconds left in the half.
Sophomore Ron Johnson (Naples, Fla.) and Newsome scored in the third quarter as the Huskies, who had only averaged 15.8 points per game coming into Saturday, extended their lead to 40-3. Newsome's touchdown was set up when redshirt senior Ellis Marder (Windermere, Fla.) recovered a fumbled punt return on the UCF 16.
Newsome led the Huskies in rushing with 84 yards on 13 carries with the two TDs while Shirreffs rushed for 42 yards and a TD, in addition to his passing performance.
Thomas led the Huskies in receiving with five grabs for 62 yards and the TD. Sophomore tight end Alec Bloom (Ligonier, Pa.) had four receptions for 67 yards.
The Huskies had three interceptions on the day from Melifonwu, Williams and sophomore cornerback Jamar Summers (East Orange, N.J.).
The Knights took a 3-0 lead on Matthew Wright's 19-yard field goal on the game's first possession, but managed just 56 total yards of offense the rest of the first half.
UCF's struggles were best summarized after Newsome's 5-yard touchdown gave UConn a 7-3 lead with 6:02 remaining. On the ensuing kickoff, UCF returner Hayden Jones ran one yard out of the end zone, then stepped back into the end zone and took a knee, resulting in a safety.
Holman finished 27 of 50 for 255 yards with an 11-yard touchdown to Nick Patti with 1:38 remaining.
UConn returns to action next Saturday to take on USF for Homecoming at noon at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. The game will be televised by ESPNU and heard on the UConn IMG Sports Network.
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