After a competitive first half, UConn football came up short in its opening game of the season, falling 24-14 to North Carolina State in front of the biggest Rentschler Field crowd since 2013 and the largest for a season opener since 2010.
The Huskies went into halftime trailing by just three, but the offense fizzled out in the second half and the Wolfpack took advantage.
UConn’s offense started off with an impressive opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. New starting quarterback Joe Fagnano marched the Huskies down the field in his very first opportunity, a 12-play, 75-yard drive where he went 3-for-3 with 20 yards passing and 25 rushing yards on three attempts. The drive was capped by an 18-yard touchdown run from Victor Rosa, giving the Huskies a surprising lead against their ACC opponents.
NC State responded quickly with an 8-play, 66-yard TD drive led by new starting quarterback Brennan Armstrong and a potent rushing attack. The Wolfpack offensive line had UConn’s front seven back on their heels all night, finishing with 45 rushes for 211 yards. Armstrong himself did a great job of avoiding pressure and spurred the ground attack with 19 carries for 96 yards.
The visitors continued to move the ball more consistently in the first half, but they were only able to muster three points from two trips to UConn territory, with one missed field goal and one made at the end of the second quarter to take a 10-7 lead into the break.
While NC State’s offense pounded away, UConn’s stalled, with just two first downs in the first 25 minutes of the second half.
After another UConn drive that ended in Husky territory, NC State delivered a back-breaking 11-play, 91-yard drive that put the Wolfpack up 17-7, aided by two pass interference penalties, one at the beginning of the drive and one towards the end.
While the game was starting to look out of reach, UConn got right back in it with a 71-yard Victor Rosa run on a pretty routine halfback option from the gun for his second touchdown of the day to get the Huskies back within three, which would be the deficit after three quarters.
But the odds once again swung against UConn, as a late hit on the ensuing kickoff return that had already made it into UConn territory set NC State up inside of the 30-yard line. They would eventually score to push the lead back to 24-14, the eventual final score.
Rosa finished with 99 rushing yards, adding eight more on two receptions, while Devontae Houston totaled 46 yards on 10 total touches. It was a modest day for the UConn passing attack, which managed just 113 yards from the arm of Fagnano while Justin Joly’s four receptions for 38 yards led all pass-catchers. Husky receivers combined to grab just five total receptions for 45 yards.
Jim Mora’s squad will have nine days off before its next game, on the road against Georgia State in Atlanta, GA on Saturday, September 9.