For the first time in 707 days, UConn football came away with a road victory as they defeated the Temple Owls 28-24. The win snaps the Huskies’ conference losing streak at eight games.
After they were called out by head coach Randy Edsall after last week, UConn’s defense put up their best performance of the season and came away with a stop on the final drive when they needed it the most.
Despite not having Jamar Summers due to illness, the defense showed signs of improvement early on, forcing a three-and-out on the Owls’ first possession.
However, Bryant Shirreffs threw an interception on the ensuing drive, giving Temple a short field to drive down and take an early 7-0 lead.
After the teams swapped punts, the Huskies tied it up on a six-yard pass from Shirreffs to Quayvon Skanes for the redshirt freshman’s first career touchdown.
A few drives later, Temple quarterback Logan Marchi threw a screen pass to Broderick Yancy on the outside. After an initial hit from Jordan Swann, Yancy couldn’t hang on and fumbled it right to Marshe Terry, who returned it 35 yards to the Owl’s 9-yard line.
Two plays later, Shirreffs connected with Mayala on a beautiful back-shoulder throw to take the lead, 14-7.
In the second half, UConn started with great field position after Temple’s kick went out of bounds. The Huskies stayed on the ground more than usual as eight of the 11 plays were runs on the first drive.
Arkeel Newsome was particularly effective, breaking off runs of 13 and 19 yards while also reeling in a six-yard touchdown pass from Shirreffs to pull ahead 21-7.
But Temple would answer back with a touchdown of their own to bring the game back within a touchdown at 21-14. It appeared the Huskies’ defense was coming undone in the second half just as they had the previous two weeks.
But then Marchi gifted UConn a turnover after he floated a pass to the sideline that allowed Tyler Coyle to step in front and return it 34 yards for the pick-six and the 28-14 lead.
The defense momentum continued on the next drive as they sacked Marchi and forced Temple into 3rd and 17. The Huskies appeared to come away with a stop, but Tre Bell was called for pass interference, keeping the Owls’ drive alive.
They moved the ball down the field but faced a 4th and 1 from the Huskies’ 12-yard line. Instead of kicking a field goal, Temple decided to go for to cut the deficit in half but were stuffed by UConn’s defense.
However, the Huskies would give it right back after Tyraiq Beal’s fumble was recovered by the Owls. They wasted no time and found the end zone to bring UConn’s lead to just one touchdown.
After forcing a three-and-out, Temple got the ball back and once again moved right now the field. They had a chance to tie it but Ryquell Armstead dropped an easy catch, forcing the Owls to settle for the field goal.
While UConn’s offense struggled to put the game away, the defense came up big. They stopped Temple on back-to-back drives and gave Shirreffs and company the ball with just over four minutes remaining.
The Huskies were able to drain three minutes off the clock and had a chance to push the lead to seven, but Michael Tarbutt’s kick went wide right.
With a minute remaining on the clock, the Owls drove to midfield but David Hood tried to keep the play alive off a swing pass, but gained just two yards and failed to get out of bounds, draining over 15 seconds and forcing Temple to use their final timeout.
Marchi would attempt a hail mary but the pass was swatted away, giving UConn their first victory over Temple since 2013.
There were a few times it appeared the Huskies would fall apart as they did against SMU and Memphis, but they held strong and weathered the Owls’ comeback attempt.
Hopefully, UConn’s defensive performance is a sign of things to come as there are still four winnable games on their schedule to become bowl eligible. Their next chance comes Oct. 21 against Tulsa at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon on ESPNU.