Huskies 0-2 for first time in 11 years, lose to Maryland
Published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013 23:09
The UConn football team is 0-2 to start the season for the first time in 11 years after a 32-21 loss to Maryland at Rentschler Field on Saturday night.
Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown was too much for the Huskies to handle. Brown had 399 all-purpose yards – 122 rushing and 277 passing – and two touchdowns, bringing his season total to 11 in only three games.
The Huskies couldn’t contain Brown’s No. 1 target at wide receiver, sophomore Stefon Diggs. Diggs had five catches for 110 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown catch.
Chandler Whitmer had a career day for UConn in the passing game. The junior quarterback threw for 349 yards and one touchdown, a 75-yard pass to Shakim Phillips with 4:26 left in the fourth quarter, when the Huskies were already trailing 32-13.
Without right tackle Kevin Friend for most of the game, the offensive line had difficulty helping to establish the run game and protecting Whitmer, who was sacked five times. Junior running back Lyle McCombs was only able to rush for 53 yards on the night.
“[Friend’s] a great player,” Whitmer said. “But I have confidence in everybody that’s out there. They’re fighting their tails off, and we’re all fighting – there’s no doubt about that. We just have to keep working.”
The Huskies struck first and held a 7-0 after the first quarter. On UConn’s second possession, Whitmer was able to move the ball down the field through the air, setting McCombs up for a five-yard touchdown run, his first of the season.
But it was all Maryland from there. Led by Brown, the Terrapins were able to move the ball at will, and the quarterback got Randy Edsall’s team back into the game with a 41-yard touchdown on a keeper, running through the box as if there were no defenders around.
“We had a hard time tackling him,” UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “I don’t think we had a minus-yardage play. We didn’t have a sack on him. We knew coming in he was going to be a good player. He made more plays than we made on him.”
Brown, with the help of Diggs and running back Brandon Ross, was able to drive down the field to within 30 yards of the end zone on nearly every possession, but the Huskies’ defense was able to stymie any further offensive progress on a couple of big occasions. Despite that, Maryland entered the half with a 13-10 lead, as Brown was able to get kicker Brad Craddock into position to convert two field goals.
Out of halftime, Brown found Diggs for a 12-yard touchdown that capped a four-play, 80-yard drive that took 87 seconds to complete, giving Maryland a 20-10 lead.
UConn had an opportunity to get within three points when Ty-Meer Brown recovered a fumble at the Maryland 31-yard line. But the offense was unable to get the ball in the end zone, and they were forced to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Chad Christen, his second made field goal of the game.
The Huskies’ defense forced Maryland into a 50-yard field goal attempt that Craddock left short. Taylor Mack caught the missed kick in the end zone and ran it out to the UConn 10-yard line, giving up valuable field position for the Huskies.
On the ensuing drive, Whitmer was intercepted by Dexter McDougle, who took the ball sideline to sideline and ran it back 49 yards for a touchdown.
“[Pasqualoni] told me to go back and catch the ball, so I was thinking there was going to be a holdup. I looked up and I was just trying to make a play, do something for the team,” Mack said of the return that forced UConn to start at their own 10. “But I guess if I had to take a knee, it would have been at the 20, and the drive that the offense got could have gone somewhere else.”
In the fourth quarter, Maryland pinned UConn back on its own 2-yard line on a punt. With Friend out of the game, Whitmer was under pressure in the end zone, and an attempt to get the ball to McCombs before getting taken down was unsuccessful. Whitmer was called for intentional grounding, which resulted in a safety for the Terrapins, extending the lead to 29-13.
A 40-yard field goal from Craddock made it 32-13 on the following drive. With the game out of reach, Maryland’s defense got caught napping when Whitmer launched a 75-yard touchdown pass to Phillips. UConn converted a two-point attempt to make it 32-21 Maryland. Phillips stayed down after he was tackled in the end zone on the touchdown catch. He is now questionable for Saturday’s game against Michigan.
With losses to Towson and Maryland, UConn is now 0-2 for the first time since 2002, the program’s first year as a full member of the Football Bowl Subdivision. Despite the difficult start and the rush by the 38,916 fans to get out of Rentschler Field early last night, the Huskies are trying to remain positive.
“We just need some young guys to play better. We need some guys that are really playing for the first time, who are older guys playing for the first time, to settle down and play better. But we have talent on the team.”
“We’re not defeated,” Whitmer said. “We’re going [into the next game] confident, and we’re going to do our best.”