By Scott Waggoner
The University of Connecticut football team was trying to change a trend in history on Saturday when it took on North Carolina State of the Atlantic Coast Conference. UConn enter the game with just four wins in 14 tries against ACC schools, but could not get that fifth win in a 10-7 loss to the Wolfpack at Rentschler Field.
Connecticut’s defense was magnificent once again, keeping the Huskies in the game till the end. The offense was a different story.
“We just overall had a very disappointing day,” Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “Too many miscues and squandered field position in the first quarter of the game.”
Despite three interceptions by Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer, the Huskies still found themselves in the game with just over ten minutes to play when Whitmer threw a screen pass to running back Lyle McCombs. The star redshirt sophomore running back cut inside and turned the pass into a 43-yard gain. McCombs punched it in on the next play, running it five yards for the score to cut the Wolfpack lead to 10-7.
UConn’s fourth-quarter rally fell short on their next possession, when Whitmer’s pass to receiver Geremy Davis fell incomplete on fourth down, allowing the Wolfpack to run out the clock.
Both offenses struggled to move the ball early, the two going without a first down until the six-minute mark in the first quarter. The Wolfpack offense was hardly more efficient than Connecticut, though they avoided the mistakes, which proved to be the difference.
“N.C. State is a good solid team, and you can’t turn it over four times against a team like that and expect to win,” Pasqualoni said.
Whitmer, who won in his debut last Thursday against UMass, had little time to throw the ball all afternoon. Faced with constant pressure, he forced the ball at times, resulting in the interceptions.
“It’s very frustrating,” Whitmer said. “We need to be more consistent and execute on every play.”
In what might have been a hard game to watch for Connecticut fans, the defense remained a bright spot for UConn. Connecticut sacked N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon six times, stalling many of the Wolfpack’s drives.
Connecticut did a good job of preventing the big play up until the third quarter when Glennon found N.C. State wide receiver Bryan Underwood for a 46-yard touchdown. Glennon hit Underwood in stride, and the receiver used his momentum to cross the goal line for the score.
“This loss isn’t all on the offense,” Connecticut defensive tack Ryan Wirth said. “There are a couple plays the defense takes away and it is a completely different game.”
Connecticut will look to improve their record against ACC competition next Saturday when they travel to College Park, Maryland for their first road game of the season. They will face the Maryland Terrapins and former UConn coach Randy Edsall.