The UConn Huskies (2-2) fell today at home at the hands of the Navy Midshipmen (3-0) in the Huskies' American Athletic Conference opener, 28-18. Keenan Reynolds rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns as the Huskies were simply unable to slow down Navy's triple-option attack- it took until the third quarter for UConn's defense to force a fourth down.
Navy scored three touchdowns on all three of their first-half drives, taking a 21-10 lead into the break. UConn got its touchdown on a nice connection between Bryant Shirreffs and true freshman receiver Tyraiq Beals for a 39-yard score. UConn had two other drives in the first half that made it into the red zone but came away with a field goal and turnover on downs.
After a relatively uneventful third quarter, it seemed like Navy put the game away when Keenan Reynolds ran for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 28-10. Fans started heading to the exits, especially after UConn punted on the ensuing possession, but the Huskies scored a touchdown after forcing a stop and got the two-point conversion as well to make it 28-18. Then they recovered an onside kick to gain possession with 7:20 remaining.
Unfortunately, the excitement of being back in the game was short-lived, as Bryant Shirreffs' 4th-and-8 attempt to Arkeel Newsome fell to the ground. The Huskies would make another stop to get the ball back with just under five minutes left, but they weren't able to capitalize on that opportunity and probably didn't have enough time anyway.
I thought this game would come down to UConn's offensive performance, but they had a pretty solid day. Arkeel Newsome and Tyraiq Beals were the primary weapons, as the Husky offense amassed over 300 yards. Newsome ran 14 times for 69 yards, adding five receptions for another 51. Beals had 78 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. Shirreffs finished with 219 passing yards while going 19-for-32 on passing attempts. Curiously, Ron Johnson did not make an appearance on the field today.
This is the first time all season UConn didn't put on a surprisingly impressive performance, but this is a really good Navy team, so I can live with it. The Midshipmen will be competing for the American conference title this year and are among the best non-power five teams out there.
A road trip to BYU is next on the schedule, and while the Cougars are currently being blown out by Michigan, they will present another very tough challenge. A bowl game is definitely still a possibility for the Huskies, but the road has become harder after today's loss.