In a game that was tied in the fourth quarter and pretty competitive throughout, UConn football collapsed late in a 49-28 loss.
Both sides of the ball looked much better for the Huskies in this one. UConn kept pace in the first quarter and most of the second after SMU struck first with a touchdown to Courtland Sutton. On the following drive, Bryant Shirreffs hit Aaron McLean on a quick out and McLean was able to turn the corner and go 64 yards all the way to the house. He finished with five receptions for 122 yards and the score.
SMU added two more touchdowns in the first half while the Huskies could only manage a field goal and took a 21-10 deficit into the halftime break.
UConn started making some stops in the third quarter and mounted a comeback. The Huskies took advantage of a short field after a bad punt to cut into the lead early in the second half. Nate Hopkins ran it into the end zone on fourth & Goal at the 2-yard line. After another Husky stop, Michael Tarbutt hit a field goal to get UConn within a point.
Feeling UConn threatening, SMU responded with a much-needed 74-yard touchdown drive. Slot receiver Trey Quinn was able to get separation in the end zone and catch his second TD of the day. He finished with 15 receptions for 116 yards. Sutton caught seven balls for 112 yards and had two scores as well.
The Huskies answered right back though with a remarkable 59-yard touchdown pass from Shirreffs to Keyion Dixon. Tyler Davis made an amazing catch for the two-point conversion and the game was tied at 28 with 14:51 left in the fourth quarter. It was indicative of a lot of growth for the Huskies to be in this one so late in the game.
Unfortunately, things went downhill from there very quickly. SMU scored 21 unanswered points as the final score made the game look much less competitive than it had been.
There is a lot to build on for the Huskies here. The defense got pressure on the quarterback at times and seemed to have found a better sense of who needs to be in the secondary rotation. The offense continued to look competent and showed a knack for making big plays. If the Huskies could have gotten the running game going a bit better—there were just 45 yards from the running backs on 24 carries—they might have been able to compete down the stretch.
At the very least, we can increase our expectations for how competitive the games on the rest of the schedule will be. It doesn’t get much easier for the Huskies though. Up next, they host Memphis next Friday night at Pratt & Whitney Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff.