UConn football’s season went out with a whimper, not a bang on Saturday, falling to Houston by a score of 45-17. The game felt more like an afterthought than maybe any other game in school history, as it took place directly after new head coach Jim Mora conducted his introductory press conference in the stadium two hours before kickoff.
The Huskies hung close with Houston in the first quarter, but a combination of defensive mistakes, bad luck in crucial moments on offense, and an overall talent deficit allowed the Cougars to pull away in the remainder of the game.
The Huskies were outclassed in the rushing and the passing game, getting outgained by 472 to 238 total yards.
Houston started quickly, with quarterback Clayton Tune completing his first four passes of the game to set up his freshman phenom running back Alton McCaskill for a 31-yard touchdown rush to put Houston up 7-0.
UConn was able to hold Houston on fourth down on their next drive, and put together a solid drive fueled by Steven Krajewski’s scrambling efforts and nifty runs from Kevin Mensah, who started the game at running back, but would settle for a field goal, which Joe McFadden would miss. Travis Jones and the UConn defense were able to stuff Houston once again on fourth down on the next drive, but couldn’t take advantage and would have to punt.
This led to Houston’s second touchdown of the game on another big play, a 49-yard touchdown pass from Tune. UConn was able to put their first points of the game on the board on the next drive, however. Krajewski dropped back and floated what might have been one of his best throws of the year, a 34-yard pass to Kevens Clercius to pull the Huskies within one score.
Clercius with a big catch late in the half, let's see if the Huskies can close the gap pic.twitter.com/BJio9YYkNg— UConn Football (@UConnFootball) October 22, 2021
The Houston offensive juggernaut wouldn’t be stopped, however, and Tune and McCaskill engineered another stellar drive that ended with a short touchdown pass. UConn was able to drive down for a field goal on the next drive to make it 21-10, but they were dealt a blow when starting quarterback Krajewski left the game after a crunching tackle left him limping off the field, and fourth string quarterback Micah Leon entered the game for his first FBS action of his career.
The second half was a familiar story for UConn fans this season. After keeping it within two scores for the majority of the first half, Houston’s quality started to show. The Cougars scored on their first four possessions of the second half on four consecutive drives of 47 yards or more.
Dana Holgorsen’s high-flying offense was only momentarily paused midway through the fourth, when Houston quarterback threw a pick six to UConn defensive back Tre Wortham, then were forced to punt on two drives in a row. Houston would compound UConn’s misery once more in the second half, recovering a strip sack and converting it into seven points, making it 45-17.
UConn ends the season 1-10, winless against FBS opposition, with their lone win coming against Yale at Homecoming on October 16, and will enter a new era under the direction of Mora on Sunday.