Coming off a bye week, UConn football’s defense put together their best performance of the season in a 38-30 loss to the No. 21 USF Bulls.
The Huskies shutdown the Bulls’ high-powered offense in the first half, holding a shutout for the first 29:17. UConn picked off USF quarterback Blake Barnett on the first two drives of the game and took advantage by jumping ahead 7-0.
However, that’s all the offense the Huskies could muster in the first half and the two teams went into the break tied at 7-7.
Once the third quarter began, the offenses for both teams woke up. USF scored 10-straight points out of the half, but UConn responded with a touchdown of their own to bring the score to 17-14.
The Bulls tried to pull away, but the Huskies did just enough to keep the game in reach. With just an eight-point lead with under nine minutes left in the game, UConn forced a fumble and turned it into three points to get within eight.
The defense couldn’t force a stop and USF scored again to push their lead up to 15. But the Huskies responded with a touchdown to get back within eight and recovered the ensuing onside kick but were flagged for offsides, negating the recovery. The Bulls ran out the remainder of the clock to earn the victory.
Offensively, UConn had a strong day on the ground with quarterback David Pindell rushing for a career-high 197 yards and a pair of touchdowns while running back Kevin Mensah racked up 120 yards on 19 carries (6.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns as well. The 30 points were the most the Huskies have scored all season against an FBS opponent, topping the mark of 21 set at Syracuse.
On the other side of the ball, UConn couldn’t carry their first-half defensive play into the second half and gave up 31 points in the final two quarters. However, they still limited the Bulls to 38 points — a season low — and 611 yards, the second-lowest total this year.
If the defense can play like they did in the first half more consistently, UConn will have a good chance to win a few more games against some of the weaker teams left on the schedule. One of their best opportunities on the football schedule comes next week when they face UMass at home for Homecoming. Kickoff is set for noon.