Sunday, September 22, 2013

Late Wolverines push spoils special night for UConn

I'm not going to lie, once I heard that Kevin Friend, Graham Stewart and Shakim Phillips were not going to play, I thought this had a chance to get ugly really quickly.

Considering how much the Huskies have struggled to protect quarterback Chandler Whitmer when Friend was out of the lineup and the fact that Phillips is the closest thing UConn has to a game-breaking performer on offense, I didn't know if the Huskies would be able to stay with Michigan.

Yet, there they were with a 14-point lead in the second half before it all unraveled as Michigan rallied to beat the Huskies 24-21 before a record crowd of 42,704 at Rentschler Field.

“We will be better for that,” UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “We will be a better team for what we went through tonight. There are no moral victories, the outcome we are not discouraged but just a little disappointed.”

The biggest play in Michigan's comeback was a Chandler Whitmer interception which was snared by Desmond Morgan with a leaping one-handed play.

“We had the momentum but the kid made a play,” Whitmer said. “It is tough because we were making plays all night. It was tough because we really wanted this one and this really hurt. You have a team like that, a great team and in an atmosphere ad they made plays. It was a hard-fought game but it in the end they were able to put three more points on the board that we did.”

After a quick 3 and out by UConn and nifty punt return by Drew Dileo set up Brendan Gibbons for the go-ahead 21-yard field goal by Brendan Gibbons with 4:36 to play.

The final drive for UConn was short circuited by a costly sack.

The game came down to a 4th and 29 on UConn’s own 33. Whitmer found Deshon Foxx down the middle of the field but Foxx was tackled seven yards shy of the first down. With UConn using its final two timeouts before the fourth down play, all that was left was for Michigan to take a knee three straight times to improve to 4-0.

UConn played without three injured starters as offensive tackle Kevin Friend (ankle), linebacker Graham Stewart (ankle) and receiver Shakim Phillips (hamstring) were held out of the game after being injured in the loss to Maryland. Pasqualoni said none of them were particularly close to playing against Michigan. Starting cornerback Taylor Mack was knocked out of the game in the first half with a shoulder injury.

Foxx led UConn with five catches for 60 yards while Smallwood had 13 tackles including two tackles for losses.


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