PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ UConn won its first game of the season and avoided setting a new program record for consecutive losses with a 28-21 come-from-behind win over Temple on Saturday night.
Freshman quarterback Casey Cochran tied the game on a 1-yard rush with 6:52 to play and linebacker Yawn Smallwood won it when he intercepted Temple quarterback P.J. Walker and returned the ball 59 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 4:20 remaining.
The Huskies (1-9, 1-6) rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit with 28 unanswered points in the second half, as Temple (1-10, 0-7) blew its sixth second-half lead of the season and fourth fourth-quarter lead. UConn had tied a program record with 10 consecutive losses coming into the game, a streak dating back to last season.
Smallwood tied for a team-high with eight tackles. The interception was his first of the season, and the first pick-six of Walker’s career.
Walker attempted to tie the game on its final drive but his final heave to end zone fell incomplete with 38 seconds remaining.
Temple hopped out to an early lead and took a 21-0 advantage into the half, but allowed UConn to make it a one score game with two third-quarter touchdowns, on a 33-yard Geremy Davis TD reception from quarterback Casey Cochran and a seven-yard Max DeLorenzo rush.
The Owls’ defense tried to keep UConn and Cochran from tying the game, but came up short on two key fourth-and-goals. Temple actually stopped UConn on a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line but cornerback Anthony Robey was called for pass interference on fourth-and-goal, allowing UConn a fresh set of downs at the goal line. Temple then proceeded to stop three straight rushes at the 1-yard line but could not stop Cochran on the Huskies second fourth down from the goal line.
Two minutes and 32 seconds later, Walker couldn’t catch Smallwood on his touchdown return.
Temple opened the scoring in the first quarter on a six-yard Walker run up the middle in the first quarter that was set up by an Abdul Smith interception of Cochran. For Smith, a senior, it was his first career interception and only Temple’s third pick this season.
Temple proceeded to score on its next two possessions — on an eight-yard Walker touchdown pass to wide receiver Robby Anderson and an 18-yard Zaire Williams rush — and took a 21-0 lead into the break.