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UConn Football Holds On to Beat Rhode Island, 56-49

There were a lot of points in this one.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

In a game where the over hit before halftime, the UConn Huskies (1-2) grabbed their first win of the season, 56-49, over Rhode Island.

David Pindell was the star of the show for the Huskies, he finished with six total touchdowns (4 passing, 2 rushing), throwing for 308 yards and rushing for 144 more. He completed 74 percent of his passes and is pretty much the only good thing the football program has going for it right now. He’s awesome.

Looking at the other side of the ball, the Huskies’ defensive performance was potentially more concerning than the previous week’s horrendous blowout loss to Boise State. To let an FCS team, even one ranked No. 25 in FCS, move the ball at will like that is completely unacceptable.

URI did not face a third down in the first half. The Rams finished with 550 yards of total offense, averaging a meaty 8.9 yards per play and 7.1 yards per rush.

UConn will lose every game the rest of the season if the defense continues to play this way.

The Huskies started the game with the ball as the contest opened with long touchdown drives for each team. UConn answered with a nicely put-together 75-yard touchdown drive to go up 14-7, which is how the first quarter would end.

True freshman Oneil Robinson made his first career interception on the Rams’ second drive for the Husky defense’s first pick of the season. Robinson made an incredible diving play to pick off URI quarterback JaJuan Lawson. UConn drove 54 yards for another touchdown to give themselves some breathing room, up 21-7, early in the second quarter.

But that’s when the floodgates opened, the two teams combined for 49 points in the second quarter. Luckily, as they traded 7-pointers, UConn had the ball last and scored a big touchdown at the end to make it 42-28 at the break.

Could UConn comfortably take care of business against an FCS opponent finally?

Of course not.

On the second half’s opening kickoff, URI fumbled and the Huskies’ recovered on the 17-yard line, in great position to make it a three-score game. But freshmen Heron Maurisseau gave it right back on an end-around, squandering the opportunity.

The visitors got to within seven after a quick touchdown drive, and UConn gave the ball right back after Pindell overthrew Hergy Mayala, who tipped the ball into the hands of a URI defender for the interception.

Rhode Island took advantage of the takeaway and found the end-zone once again to tie the game at 42.

UConn finally scored its first points of the second half in the final minute of the third quarter to re-take the lead, 49-42. The Huskies followed the ensuing URI three-and-out with another long drive deep into Rams’ territory. Unfortunately, at the URI 6, a shotgun snap sailed over Pindell’s head and UConn failed to recover, giving up their shot at putting the game away. Again.

With the door still open, the Rams drove down the field and tied the game with 3:13 remaining. The Huskies took the field and seemed to be setting themselves up for a field goal after crossing into plus territory, but a 22-yard touchdown run from Kevin Mensah eased any concerns of having to sweat out a last-second field goal.

Instead, the last-second sweating was because Rhode Island had the ball with 50 seconds left and a chance to tie or win. They drove down the field, converting a 4th and 16 to set up 1st and 10 from the UConn 33. After a Husky penalty and a pass completion, URI had three chances to score from 16 yards away. The Huskies were able to hold on thanks to linebacker Eli Thomas, who got pressure on Lawson on second down and took him down on third down for the sack to seal the win.

Next week, UConn travels to upstate New York to visit our old Big East rivals Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The Orange are 3-0 after an impressive 30-7 upending of Florida State Saturday.


UConn Football Postgame video (Randy Edsall, Hergy Mayala, Eli Thomas, Kevin Mensah, David Pindell