It was a battle of two defenses in what ended up being a low-scoring affair on Saturday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The UConn Huskies were sitting at a 1-5 record heading into the contest and were coming off of a bye week. Jim Mora and his squad were hoping to turn the tide and right the ship, as the Bulls of South Florida came to town, having previously had a 3-4 record.
The UConn defense kept South Florida in check, allowing Ta’Quan Roberson and the offense to fight to stay in it. On the first drive of the game, USF’s Byrum Brown was running the ball on 4th & 5, but was immediately shut down by the Huskies’ defense and was only able to pick up one yard. The defensive battle continued, as UConn only allowed USF to get on the board once in the first quarter, which happened after Jaelen Stokes was able to recover a fumble by Victor Rosa at UConn’s 10-yard line. Nay’Quan Wright then ran the ball in for a touchdown two plays later.
Not to be outdone, UConn answered the touchdown later on in the contest with a score of their own at the onsight of the second quarter. Quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson ran the ball in himself for the 6 points. Roberson had a decent day overall offensively, throwing for 175 total yards and going 19/34 on completions. He also rushed for 24 yards on 5 carries, proving his mobility and comfortability with the UConn offensive scheme as a first-year transfer student. It was a career game for running back Camryn Edwards, who rushed for 149 yards on 22 carries. Whenever Roberson was caught in a jam, Edwards was the guy to bail him out. Cameron Ross led the receiving game, posting 5 receptions on 87 yards. Brett Buckman (52 receiving yards), Justin Joly (28 receiving yards), and Victor Rosa (6 rushing yards) also contributed offensively.
On the Bulls side, USF quarterback Byrum Brown went 27/39 on completions and threw for 203 total yards of offense. He also rushed for 61 yards on 14 carries. Leading the receiving corps was Michael Brown-Stephens, who had 9 receptions for 92 yards, and Nay’Quan Wright led the run game, with 186 rushing yards on 26 carries. Other contributors were K’Wan Powell on the rushing side (13 yards, 9 carries), Sean Atkins (57 yards on 8 receptions), and Weston Wolff (25 yards on 2 receptions) on the receiving end.
In what was very much primarily a back-and-forth contest, it felt like UConn sealed the deal early on in the 4th quarter when Camryn Edwards ran into the end zone for a 33-yard score with 12:45 left on the clock. This touchdown put the Huskies up 21-10 with less than a quarter to go. In a lot of cases, that’s a comfortable enough lead.
In this case, however, the USF Bulls were not going down without a fight. UConn’s defense allowed a touchdown on the very last drive, one that ended with Byrum Brown running in a 6-yard score with 9:51 on the clock. This pulled it to a one-score game (21-17).
When it was UConn’s turn with the football, they failed to capitalize on an offsides penalty by USF on 2nd & 10 at the Bulls’ 44-yard line. This came back to bite the Huskies, as they were forced to punt on the drive and couldn’t make a stop as a result. USF went downfield and scored again, this time on a Nay’Quan Wright 4-yard touchdown run, to give them a 24-21 lead with 4:02 to go. After Jim Mora brought his team to the sideline to re-group and prepare, the team had 4:00 to drive the ball downfield for a score. In a crucial moment in crunch time, Roberson couldn’t come through, as he ran the ball 6 yards and fumbled at his own 40-yard line. It was recovered by USF’s Daquan Evans to ultimately seal the deal for the visitors.
Despite the fact that there was seemingly a missed defensive pass interference call on USF late in the 4th quarter that had Mora yelling at the referees and would’ve placed UConn in much better field position, it was still late, sloppy play and failing to capitalize on USF’s mistakes that led to the downfall of the Huskies. Both teams missed field goals early in the game, which didn’t help matters as the game came down to the wire.
Overall, Ta’Quan Roberson seems to be getting more and more acclimated to UConn’s offense, but there is still a lot of work for the Huskies to do in order to get back on track.
USF improved to an even 4-4 record on the season, while UConn fell to 1-6. The final in this one is USF 24 and UConn 21.