The UConn Huskies traveled to Nippert Stadium to meet the Cincinnati Bearcats for their final tackle football game of the 2017 season. Despite taking an early lead and having a much more productive offensive performance than their hosts, the Huskies fell 22-21 following a missed extra point by Michael Tarbutt.
After a weak start graciously left them with a 15-7 third-quarter deficit, the Bearcat offense came alive late in the game. Cincinnati tied it up early in the fourth quarter with a touchdown and two-point conversion. The two teams proceeded to exchange lengthy drives ending in punts before a Hayden Moore rushing touchdown capped off a 64-yard drive that put Cincinnati ahead 22-15 with 1:22 left.
David Pindell responded with an amazing drive starting from the UConn 7-yard line. On an untimed down that would be the final play of the game, Pindell scrambled around before hitting Hergy Mayala in the end zone for what appeared to be the tying score.
Unfortunately, Mayala received an unsportsmanlike penalty for taunting which moved UConn back 15 yards and Tarbutt missed the 35-yard kick.
Going by the stat sheet, UConn had the better overall performance this afternoon. The Huskies held a significant advantage in offensive yards (449-335), first downs (29-19), total plays (103-54), and time of possession (39:40-20:20).
They dominated in the early going, but despite moving the ball well the Husky offense sputtered in the red zone. On the first three drives, UConn gained over 60 yards but had to settle for three field goal attempts. Tarbutt hit two, missing a 49-yarder. He also hit a 53-yard bomb in the third quarter that made it 15-7. He’s an obvious scapegoat for this loss, but bad red zone playcalling and late defensive generosity are far more culpable.
Pindell finished with 273 passing yards, completing 27 of 51 attempts for one touchdown and an interception. He also added a touchdown on the ground as part of a 22-carry, 95-yard rushing performance. His favorite target was Keyion Dixon, who he hit eight times for 67 yards.
This is a remarkably disappointing way to end the season and for the seniors a devastating end to their collegiate careers. Those guys dealt with some major trials and tribulations with this program and quite simply deserved better. It’s got to be tough for a player’s senior year to be a new head coach’s first; there’s just such a difference in the mindset of the two.
Randy Edsall’s first season back at the helm of UConn Football ends with a 3-9 record, but promise remains for the future. Pindell has been solid for an offense which did well this year and if the defense can step up this can be a competitive team in 2018. There is A LOT to clean up, but this is often the case when a new head coach takes over a program.
We’ll do more of a debrief on the season in the next few days. Thanks to all of you for checking out our coverage of UConn Football this season. Hopefully, there are brighter days ahead.