The UConn Huskies picked the perfect time to play their best game of the season Saturday. Not perfect by any stretch but certainly good enough to beat Cincinnati 20-9 for the Huskies first AAC win of the season.
There was a lot to like about this one, not the least of which was the performance of the defense in the second quarter. Three times the Bearcats had the ball in the red zone and three times UConn held them to field goals. It’s a lot easier to come back from 9-0 down rather than 21-0. Then, it was an Obi Melifonwu interception that set up the first touchdown of the game, an electric 59 yard pass and run from Bryant Shirreffs to Tyraiq Beals to get the Huskies on the scoreboard with 28 seconds left in the half.
Then the defense held Cincy o one first down on their first possession of the second half and the offense responded with a season best 88 yard drive capped by a Shirreffs TD pass to Noel Thomas that put Connecticut up to stay.
Bob Diaco talks about complimentary football and that is what UConn executed on Saturday. The offensive line, sparked by the return of left guard Tommy Hopkins , had it’s best game of the season. Arkeel Newsome, sat out in the first quarter for disciplinary seasons, ran for a season best 116 yards with a dynamic 67 yard run as the highlight. Newsome had 18 touches in three quarters, something Diaco said they would try to do. Shirreffs shook off a rocky first 25 minutes and played his best half of the season in the second half. And Thomas continued his superb season with another 100 yard receiving game.
Defensively, UConn held the Cincy rushing game to an absurd two yards rushing. The switch of Jamar Summers to safety and the insertion of John Green as a starting corner worked out just as planned. E.J.Levenberry played extremely well replacing an injured Junior Joseph. And the defensive line, led by Foley Fatukasi also stood out. And the special teams, led by punter Justin Wain also contributed. Bobby Puyol finally missed a field goal, it’s nice to see he is human.
All in all, a good win for the Huskies to get them back to 500 before a Saturday night game at USF. The Bulls 5-1 on the season with some staggering offensive stats.