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UConn football drops season opener at Utah State, 31-20

The Huskies jumped out to an early lead, gave up 24 unanswered, then got within one score in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t make enough plays for the win.

NCAA Football: Yale at Connecticut Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

UConn football opened its season in an encouraging fashion, losing to Utah State but comfortably covering the 27-point spread and sufficiently competing down to the wire. The hosts prevailed, 31-20, and a few key Huskies went down with injuries, but Jim Mora and his staff have a lot to be proud of in their first outing.

UConn won the toss, deferred, and forced a stop after five plays on the Aggies’ first drive. Starting quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson took the field for the first time, and the Huskies ran behind Nate Carter in a drive that ended with a Roberson sneak for a touchdown, making it 7-0. After a Utah State turnover, Roberson went down with an injury after he ran the ball and the drive ended with backup Zion Turner, a true freshman, throwing an interception in his first college attempt.

UConn redeemed Turner by forcing a three-and-out and then Turner redeemed himself with a touchdown pass on the Huskies’ next drive to Keelan Marion. The Huskies surprised the entire college football world by taking a 14-0 lead with 1:38 left in the first quarter.

Utah State came roaring back, scoring three touchdowns in 11 minutes in the second quarter to grab the lead and take a 24-14 advantage into halftime.

The third quarter went by uneventfully, which was a pretty solid outcome for a Husky team that was not making stops. The defense held Utah State scoreless in the second half until Logan Bonner’s third touchdown pass with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. The problem was UConn could only muster up two field goals from sophomore kicker Noe Ruelas. The second one was a 54-yard bomb — the longest in the program’s FBS history — that would have been good from much farther and got the Huskies within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Nate Carter was the star of the day for UConn. The sophomore running back carried the ball 20 times for 190 yards behind an offensive line that did a great job of creating holes and following up blocks at the next level. The passing game did not go as well. Roberson completed one of his two attempts for 10 yards and Turner was 12-for-31 with 109 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.

Utah State finished with 548 yards on 82 plays with 31 first downs. Though the defense held up alright, it also gave up many chunk plays and had a few too many breakdowns. The tackling looked better than it has in the past but was still inconsistent.

Next up, the Huskies have their home opener against Central Connecticut State. They should make easy work of their FCS opponent. The game will be televised at noon on CW20/FOX61-Plus. Perhaps after today, UConn fans have some faith in the Huskies’ ability to take care of business against CCSU, and maybe even make some more noise across the season.