Friday, November 15, 2013

UConn/SMU game brings back memories

Tomorrow's game at Southern Methodist is just the second meeting between the teams. It's not hard to recall the details of the first showdown.

SMU was playing its second game after the program was revived following the NCAA's "Death Penalty." The Mustangs weren't expected to win a game all season and who knew how many seasons it was going to take before SMU returned to the win column.

That all changed when SMU scored the final 17 points to stun the Huskies.

Hamden native Abbott Burrell was a starting defensive back and team captain on the 1989 team so I reached out to Brown University where Burrell has been an assistant football coach for 19 seasons and spoke to him earlier this week about that unforgettable game.

"I remember making the trip down there playing a Division I opponent," Burrell said. "We were in the Yankee Conference at the time. The game, as I remember, was a game of two halves. We played pretty well in the first half and in the second half they made some plays and we couldn’t get any stops, they ended up clawing their way back into the game.

"I saw myself on TV (when the highlight of the game-winning touchdown was shown during a 30 for 30 documentary) . I remember that pass, we didn’t help ourselves, we let them get back in and gave them an opportunity to win the game. The games you lose like that you do (remember them), games that you were in control for much of the game and they win at the end, those games stick with me for a long time. I still remember that loss."

Naturally I asked Burrell for his take on the current state of affairs at UConn as the Huskies are 0-8 heading into tomorrow's game at SMU.

"I am pretty far removed from that situation but it has to be tough for everybody involved," Burrell said. "They get a lot of support from people in the state and a couple years ago they were bowl team and it just has to be tough for everybody involved. I know the coaches there are working as hard as they can to get things right, I know the players are working hard. They can’t get the breaks, they were in some games early and it is just a tough, tough situation. Anybody who has been involved with sports, you go through spells where you just can’t see to buy a break and things go against you all the time but they will get it back, turned around."


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