UConn football committed 11 penalties against Army on Saturday at Michie Stadium and turned the ball over twice in a 34-17 road loss.
“It was a disappointing day for us,” UConn head coach Jim Mora said postgame. “We had been playing well, but today we didn’t.”
Despite moving the ball effectively in the first half, UConn could not get out of its own way early. After its first possession ended in a three-and-out, Army blocked the punt and recovered it in the end zone for an early touchdown.
The Huskies committed a false start on the first play of their next drive, one of five in the half. The second play from scrimmage was wiped out by a holding call and despite all that, UConn got the ball to the Army one-yard line. Victor Rosa seemed to have punched the ball in from seven yards out, but he was ruled out of bounds before reaching the pylon.
Facing first-and-goal from inside the one-yard line, the visitors were unable to get across the goal line, hindered by another false start, and instead settled for a 26-yard field goal.
The defense did its job and forced a three-and-out and on the ensuing drive. The Huskies again pushed the Black Knights to the shadow of their own goal line, with just one yard to go before pay dirt.
This time, UConn came away with zero points, as a hurried Zion Turner was unable to hook up with Rayonte Brown on third down, and Robert Burns was stuffed for a one-yard loss on fourth down.
However, Mora’s team cleaned it up on its next series. They did not commit any infractions and a seven-play, 80-yard drive was capped off by a 43-yard Rosa rushing touchdown that put the Huskies ahead 10-7.
On Army’s first pass attempt, late in the second quarter, Malcolm Bell committed a pass interference penalty on a questionably catchable ball. The Black Knights made the Huskies pay for their mistake.
Jemel Jones punched the ball into the end zone from one yard out with just 18 seconds remaining to take a 13-10 halftime lead. On the extra point, Eric Watts got a hand up and blocked the extra point to keep the deficit at a field goal.
UConn ran the ball 24 times for 202 yards over the first 30 minutes, but its first drive of the second half was catalyzed by the pass after forcing a three-and-out. Kevens Clercius got free with a 33-yard grab to get inside the 25-yard line and Turner finished it with a one-yard rush for a 17-13 advantage.
The triple option relies on trickery and athleticism. UConn did a good job of bottling it up through much of the game but Braheam Murphy was able to break a 75-yard run on the very next play to give the lead back to Army. UConn made too many mistakes to win this one.
“We did a good job on [the triple option] except for,” Mora said. “We did a good job except for the 75-yard run. Those are the ones that kill you.”
Tyhier Tyler added another touchdown before the third quarter was out and Turner threw an interception late in the fourth quarter to clinch the game for the hosts.
UConn (6-6) has completed its regular season and awaits its bowl fate, as the Huskies do not have a bowl tie-in. Pairings will be announced in early December.