Oct. 13, 2012
By Scott Waggoner
With a strike across the middle, University of Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer found tight end Ryan Griffin for a 42-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, and it appeared the Huskies would have their way with the Temple defense Saturday afternoon at Rentschler Field.
Connecticut’s offense shot out of the gate, scoring two touchdowns on their first three possessions, as the Huskies jump out to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“We had the looks we wanted and Chandler was putting the ball where we needed it,” Griffin said.
Momentum was on their side, though after the first quarter that momentum quickly died. Connecticut didn’t score a single point the rest of the game, allowing Temple to claw their way back into the game and eventually win in overtime 17-14.
“All we really needed was one more point so obviously it’s a tough deal on everybody,” Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni said.
The Huskies came into the game with one of the bottom rushing attacks in the country. They ranked 108 out of 120 teams, gaining less than three yards per carry and that caught up to them Saturday.
Redshirt freshman Mike DeLorenzo started at running back for Connecticut, filling in for sophomore Lyle McCombs, who was nursing a sore wrist. DeLorenzo performed admirably gaining 91 yards on 23 carries, though Connecticut as a team was not effective enough running the ball again this season.
“It was exciting for me, especially coming back home,” DeLorenzo said. “But if you can’t win it means nothing.”
The Huskies gained just over two yards a carry Saturday, and while they continued to move the ball down the field in the second half, they stumbled time after time in the red zone.
“We moved the ball pretty well all day but the name of the game is to score points,” senior wide receiver Michael Smith said. “We left a lot of opportunities on the field, especially in the red zone.”
Much of the blame will be put on Connecticut’s special teams, as redshirt junior kicker Chad Christen missed four field goals, including a 28-yard field goal in overtime. Christen came into the game with only three misses on the season.
“I just didn’t do my job,” Christen said. “Anytime I get the opportunity, I have to make those. I look forward to rebounding from this and staying strong.”
Pasqualoni didn’t put all the blame on Christen and said the Huskies could of done a better job of giving him shorter field goals.
“I’m going to encourage him,” Pasqualoni said. “It’s a tough and lonely position at times but he’s going to bounce back. He’s a tough kid.”
Connecticut’s defense was solid once again. They struggled to contain Temple running back Montel Harris, who managed 142 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown, though they were able to keep the Owls out of the end zone for much of the game.
The Huskies gave up a heartbreaking touchdown on Temple’s final drive, though Smith said Connecticut shouldn’t have even been in that position.
“We can’t come out scoring 14 points on offense and expect to beat anybody on any level,” Smith said. “We score one more time and the game isn’t even in question.”
The Huskies will need to bounce back quickly when they look for their first conference win this season against Syracuse on Friday before a national television audience on ESPN.
Redshirt senior defensive tackle Ryan Wirth knows it will be difficult to regain focus after such a tough loss, but says this isn’t the time to be negative.
“I try to be positive,” Wirth said. “I need to keep my squad together and we need to come back and play even better next week.”