The UConn Huskies pulled off the improbable in their final home game of the season, as they honored the team's 16 graduating seniors, beating Houston 20-17 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.
The win was keyed by an incredible performance from UConn's defense, which held Houston (10-1, 6-1 American) to three points in the first half, and the Cougar offense to just 10 points in the entire game.
Forcing four Houston turnovers, while committing zero themselves, also made a big difference in UConn's victory effort.
The game got off to a great start for the Huskies (6-5, 4-3), with a 42-yard run up the middle by Arkeel Newsome on the first play from scrimmage leading the charge for a UConn touchdown. The Huskies rode Newsome for 68 yards downfield before Bryant Shirreffs rolled out and hit Noel Thomas for a 4-yard touchdown to put the Huskies up 7-0. Newsome finished with 114 rushing yards.
Unfortunately, the Huskies would see Shirreffs leave the game in the first quarter after taking a nasty hit to the head while sliding. It is believed to be a concussion. He was on the sidelines in street clothes later in the game. Tommy Myers left the game a few plays earlier and was also in street clothes later.
Still, the Huskies took a 10-3 lead into the halftime break, with all but one Houston drive up until that point finishing with just single-digit yardage. The Huskies pushed the lead to 10 in the third quarter after an Andrew Adams interception led to a field goal drive boosted by the short field.
Houston would answer back with its only offensive touchdown of the game on a 38-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Kyle Postma to Chance Allen. Fortunately, on the ensuing UConn possession, a little trickery got the Huskies back into the endzone.
Oh my god pic.twitter.com/PjKsFfdIUQ— Kevin Vellturo (@kjvellturo) November 21, 2015
What you are seeing there is Tim Boyle swing one out to converted quarterback-turned-fullback Garrett Anderson, who then launched one downfield to Noel Thomas. The initial swing pass was tipped, almost intercepted, and Anderson was under heavy pressure, but the Huskies made it work.
On the very next play, though, Houston returned the kickoff for a touchdown, silencing the crowd and getting back to within three points. The Husky defense held on to the slight lead, which was sealed by a Jamar Summers interception on Houston's final drive.
The win hands Houston its first loss of the season and propels UConn to bowl eligibility. We'll talk about all the meaning there later but for now savor the win UConn fans. We'll remember this one for a long time, I think.
The Huskies will be at Temple next week for the season finale at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.