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St. Petersburg Bowl Final Score: UConn Falls to Marshall, 16-10

The Huskies fought valiantly, but the offense couldn't string enough together to get the win.

Bryant Shirreffs scrambling for yardage as UConn's best offensive threat today.
Bryant Shirreffs scrambling for yardage as UConn's best offensive threat today.
Ian Bethune

After a phenomenal season—getting back to a bowl game after a 2-10 season in 2014—the UConn football team fell flat in the St. Petersburg Bowl, losing to Marshall 16-10 Saturday afternoon.

UConn finishes Bob Diaco's second season 6-7 after ending the 2014 season with a home loss to winless SMU. With a win in its home finale over Houston, the Huskies earned bowl eligibility for the first time since 2010.

Returning to the lineup after missing the regular season finale at Temple and most of UConn's win over Houston, Bryant Shirreffs handled most of the work on offense. Shirreffs only threw 17 passes, completing 10 for 86 yards, but he carried the ball 19 times for a team-high 75 yards.

UConn ran the ball 33 times in total, earning 127 of its 213 yards on the ground. The Huskies were not on the field often, either. UConn ran 50 plays, compared to Marshall's 77. The Thundering Herd (10-3) had 34:42 time of possession.

The game was close—somewhat back and forth—early on. Marshall took an early lead seven minutes in on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Chase Litton to Ryan Yurachek. UConn running back Ron Johnson put the Huskies back on level terms six minutes later with an 8-yard run.

It was a stalemate after that. Led by Litton, a true freshman, Marshall managed to develop some strong drives, but UConn's defense held strong. The Thundering Herd were held to three field goals after the initial touchdown.

Marshall led 13-7 late in the third quarter when UConn started to put a good drive together. The Thundering Herd managed to force the Huskies into a 52-yard field goal attempt. Bobby Puyol is often left on the sidelines in that situation, but Diaco showed faith, and Puyol made it interesting for him. His kick bounced off the crossbar and straight up in the air, eventually sneaking through the uprights, getting UConn within three.

UConn missed a critical opportunity in the fourth quarter. As Marshall was driving with a chance to put the game away, Jamar Summers made an interception along the sideline in the red zone. But UConn's next drive was stagnant. As has been the case many times after big defensive or special teams plays, the Huskies could not convert the chance into points, and they were forced to punt.

On the ensuing possession, Marshall's Keion Davis ran 41 yards into UConn territory. Had he not been tripped up at the last second, he was gone for a touchdown. Davis killed the Huskies late in the fourth quarter, as he burned UConn multiple times on the late drive, killing clock and allowing Marshall to put the game away.

UConn held Marshall to a field goal on that possession, but when got the ball back with under two minutes to play, the Huskies failed to do anything with it. Shirreffs got away from a potential sack and hit Hergy Mayala for a first down, but he was sacked on the following play. Marshall prevented UConn from creating anything after that. A completion to Tyraiq Beals was short, and Marshall kept him inbounds. Passes to Aaron McLean and Mayala fell to the turf after that.

All four passes on the final possession were to true freshman. Leading receiver Noel Thomas only had the ball thrown in his vicinity twice. Converted offensive lineman Steve Hashemi was looked to three times, as many times as starting tight end Alec Bloom.

In his final game as a Husky, Andrew Adams led all players with 14 total tackles. He was the only player with more than nine.