Nov. 19, 2011
By Erika Wentzell
It was a late in the season letdown for the University of Connecticut football team, which was defeated by Louisville, 34-20, on Saturday. With only two games remaining in the season, a Saturday win was essential for the Huskies to stay competitive in the BIG EAST. Louisville's win makes them bowl eligible at 6-5, whereas the 4-6 Huskies must win both of their final games if they wish to gain bowl eligibility for the fifth consecutive season.
UConn had won their last two home games at Rentschler Field, however this momentum seemed to be lost over their bye-week. Head coach Paul Pasqualoniaddressed how the week off came back to haunt his team today. "You always hope that you come back and you regain the momentum you had before the bye-week," said Pasqualoni. "And obviously that didn't happen, we just did not play well."
Louisville came out with a statement on Saturday with a 100-yard kickoff return on the opening KO. The rough start to the game seemed to leave the Huskies lagging through the entire first quarter. Things were looking pretty bleak for the Huskies as halftime was nearing in the second quarter. A breakthrough came when Dwayne Gratz got an interception on the Louisville 22-yard line. This lead to a scoring drive and the first of two touchdown receptions from Kashif Moore. The Huskies were able to hold off the Cardinals and keep the score at 14-10 at the half.
The rest of the game proved to be too little too late. Moore got another touchdown in the fourth quarter and kicker Dave Teggartgot a field goal with just 13 seconds reaming in the game. UConn did not hit the endzone once in the third quarter, which proved to be detrimental.
All around the Huskies appeared sloppy with an excess of dropped passes and missed opportunities. Pasqualoni was especially disappointed in this aspect of the game. "We just did not catch the ball well today and why I can't tell you. We caught the ball well all week in practice, I thought we practiced well. Some of those drops were key plays."
One milestone was reached in spite of the loss; redshirt freshman tailback Lyle McCombsgot his 1,000th rushing yard of the season. He is the 13th Husky to reach this mark in a single season and only the second freshman to do so. This is commendable and a testament to the Huskies generally improving running game, despite disappointing in that area on Saturday.
There is no denying that this loss will squander any last hopes of retaining the BIG EAST title achieved by the Huskies last season. "This game would have kept us in it had we won. That's our main goal, to win the conference. Unfortunately we couldn't do that," remarked quarterback Johnny McEntee.
Fans can only hope that this transitioning team will be able to keep their chins up, considering there are still two more opponents to face before the season wraps. There was a tangible disappointment at Rentschler Field as fans, coaches, and players alike watched this game play out.
Pasqualoni described it best; "It's disappointing, losses are all disappointing. You get to this point in the season and you know with the conference the way it is, this is disappointing. Where this win would have put us, it would have been a lot of fun."