The UConn Huskies (3-3, 1-1 American) won the coin toss this afternoon as hundreds of fans packed the stands at Bright House Networks Stadium for the latest installment of The ConFLiCT rivalry game. The Huskies elected to defer.
UCF took the ball on the first drive and moved down the field with quarterback Justin Holman, who was returning from injury. Though the drive stalled near the goal line, the Knights seemed to look comfortable offensively. They settled for a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
It was all downhill for them from there.
UConn answered back with a 77-yard drive which ended with a 5-yard Arkeel Newsome touchdown, and would never trail again. Then things got a little wacky.
That safety made it 9-3 UConn, and an ugly stretch began. Both teams would basically exchange punts for most of the second quarter until Jhavon Williams picked off Holman and returned the ball to UCF's 9-yard line. Bryant Shirreffs scored a rushing touchdown to make it 16-3 and open the floodgates.
Holman would throw another interception on the second play of the ensuing drive, and UConn struck quickly with another touchdown to make it 23-3 at the half. The Huskies scored two touchdowns in the half's final two minutes.
...UConn INT #2 pic.twitter.com/O5ZLKIjsnL— Angry 1999 Banner (@Angry99Banner) October 10, 2015
The second half started with Arkeel Newsome taking the opening kickoff 70 yards to the UCF 30. UConn would only get a field goal out of it, but the rout was on. UCF's offense looked helpless out there and the Huskies scored two more touchdowns to close out a 17-point third quarter.
Bryant Shirreffs and the Huskies' offense had little trouble moving the ball, gaining 433 total yards on the day, making 20 first downs and going 5-13 on third down. Shirreffs finished with 256 passing yards, completing 16 of his 22 attempts and throwing for one touchdown. He would also add 42 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The star of UConn's offense, however, was Arkeel Newsome, who ran the ball 13 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns. He also had two receptions for 67 yards. He did a great job of making people miss and finding space in the running game. The Huskies have a bona fide star in the sophomore running back who will likey continue to see the bulk of the touches out of the backfield. The offensive line committed some troublesome penalties early, but held up well both in the running game and pass blocking.
Tight end Alec Bloom got off to a good start in the game, making four catches for 67 yards in the first half, all on important plays, but would finish with that total after a quiet second half. Junior receiver Noel Thomas finished with six receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown.
This is clearly a very poor UCF team, one that stands a solid chance of staying winless throughout this season. Bob Diaco has his first road win, and the Huskies have three wins on the season, but one was against Villanova and the other two have come against some of the worst teams in FBS. It's a good thing the Huskies won so comfortably because that's what should have happened.
The Huskies host a USF team next weekend that is coming off a big win of their own, 45-24 over Syracuse. They'll have to step up their game next week to earn that win and keep UConn's bowl game hopes alive.
Either way, bring that ConFLiCT trophy home! Back-to-back champs!!!