Louisville takes advantage of Connecticut's mistakes
EAST HARTFORD - Lousiville wasn't at its best and UConn had a chance at an unlikely upset but mistakes kept the Huskies winless on the season.
Teddy Bridgewater made some plays and some NFL throws, but wasn't stellar and he and his Cardinals teammates didn't need to be as they scored on defense and special teams en route to a 31-10 victory over the Huskies on Friday night at Rentschler Field.
Connecticut (0-8, 0-4 AAC) had trouble moving the ball and was done in by six turnovers. The Huskies scored their lone touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a drive directed by backup quarterback Casey Cochran. The Cardinals limited Huskies starting quarterback Tim Boyle to 113 yards passing while intercepting him three times.
"It's a tough loss to a good team," Boyle said. "They had speed and covered up defenses. They tried to trick me which they did a couple times."
The UConn defense didn't fool Bridgewater, but it did limit him to one TD pass while he completed only 21-of-37 passes for 288 yards with an interception.
UConn's last win came against Louisville and the Cardinals were ripe for an upset Friday night but the Huskies weren't up to pulling it off. Most teams can't afford to give up a TD on a blocked punt and an interception return but that's what UConn did Friday in dropping to 0-9 since it upset Louisville last season.
The Huskies drove down the field on the opening drive, reaching the Louisville 10 before a fumble by Martin Hyppolite stalled the drive. The inability to finish drives hurt UConn when it wasn't turning the ball over. The Huskies scored their only first-half points on a 14-play drive that covered 57 yards and chewed 6:29 off the clock and ended with a 35-yard field goal by Chad Christen.
The field goal made it 7-3. Louisville (8-1, 4-1) had already taken a 7-0 lead in the first quarter after Charles Gaines blocked a punt and returned it seven yards for a score.
Then after a slow first quarter, Bridgewater got going and directed a pair of scoring drives in the second. He threw a 28-yard TD pass to DeVante Parker to make it 14-3 and Senorise Perry added a five-yard scoring run with 2:18 left in the half to make it 21-3.
With the late start (8:30 p.m. kickoff) and game being on TV, it was 10:30 when halftime rolled around and a large number of UConn fans rolled out the exits. About all they missed as a nice late drive by Cochran, who completed 6-of-9 passes for 66 yards, including a 14-yard TD pass to Kamal Abrams to cap the scoring.
"I'm proud of our effort but we need to make plays," Interim Huskies coach T.J. Weist said. "Turnovers killed us."
Boyle finished 14-of-29 for 113 yards and three interceptions. He was also sacked five times and looked reluctant to call his own number on some of UConn's option plays when it looked like he had room to run.
"Louisville was the fastest and most physical defense we have seen this season," Weist said. "Our offense has not been productive, it has not been efficient and if you give them any kind of momentum, you just can't recover."
Linebacker Yawin Smallwood had 10 tackles to lead the Huskies, who allowed only 81 yards rushing and held the Cardinals to 4-of-13 on third down. Safety Andrew Adams made a nice break on a ball deep in UConn territory to intercept Bridgewaterlate in the third quarter.
"I feel like we played on OK game, we just needed to make a few more stops," Smallwood said. "For the most part we played a good game, we just have to keep working and get better."