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UConn Huskies defeat UMass Minutemen 37-0 in season opener
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 31, 2012 00:08
EAST HARTFORD - It was all UConn from start to finish, as the Huskies defeated UMass 37-0 in the first game of the season at Rentschler Field.
After halting the Minutemen on the first drive of the game, UConn struck first, putting together a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by sophomore Lyle McCombs. UMass got into penalty trouble early, and only managed 12 yards in the first quarter.
Things did not improve for the Minutemen in the second quarter, as the UMass offense did not record a single first down until there were 33 seconds left in the half. UConn’s offense would continue to go to work after a 51-yard drive that ended with a 36-yard field goal by junior kicker Chad Christen.
Head coach Paul Pasqualoni was impressed by the defense’s performance, especially that of sophomore linebacker Yawin Smallwood, who recorded seven tackles on the night, including one sack. “When we came into preseason camp last year, we did not have a middle linebacker,” Pasqualoni said. “Yawin’s skill set was the best to go in there and be that player, as he’s starting to settle in he’s a good middle linebacker in the 4-3.”
Christen then went on to add three more points in the second quarter after converting on a 47-yard field goal following a seven-play, 25-yard drive.
UConn’s defense continued its sustained pressure through the rest of the half, which was highlighted by a Dwayne Gratz 37-yard interception return for a touchdown.
UConn would take a 20-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. Sophomore quarterback Chandler Whitmer was 8-16 with one interception at the end of the first half.
The Huskies would start the second half with the ball but could not capitalize to start the third quarter. However, UConn would add to their lead on a blocked punt by junior Taylor Mack. Freshman and Berlin, Conn., native Max DeLorenzo recovered the ball in the UMass end zone for the touchdown to extend the UConn lead to 27. UConn’s defense would continue to dominate throughout the third quarter, holding the UMass offense to just 58 yards at the start of the fourth quarter.
With time winding down in the fourth quarter, the Huskies added a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Scott McCummings to take a 34-0 lead. “I am just focused on each game when it comes,” McCummings said. “Whatever role I have in the game plan, when they call my number, I want to show up and do the best I can.”
Christen would tack on a 19-yard field goal late in the game for UConn’s final score of the day. “Chad, I thought, had a really great night tonight kicking off,” said Pasqualoni. “You don’t take those field goals for granted. That was his first live action, and I thought that Chad did a really good job.”
Whitmer would finish his first start in a UConn uniform going 15 for 23 with 219 yards passing and two interceptions. Senior Nick Williams rushed for an average of eight yards per carry in the victory for the Huskies and finished the night with 143 all-purpose yards. Sophomore Geremy Davis led UConn’s receivers with 79 yards on five receptions.
The Huskies held UMass to just 59 yards the entire game and only allowed the Minutemen three first downs.
UConn will take the field again on Saturday, Sept. 8 when they take on North Carolina State at Rentschler Field.