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(Thursday, August 30th)
Final Score: Connecticut 37, Massachusetts 0
Hartford, CT (Sports Network) - Connecticut's defense dominated Massachusetts in the Minutemen's first foray as a Football Bowl Subdivision program as the Huskies shut out the Minutemen 37-0 in the season opener at Rentschler Field.
Linebacker Yawin Smallwood anchored Connecticut's (1-0) impressive defensive effort, collecting team highs of seven tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss.
On offense, Connecticut relied heavily on the run with 43 carries for 159 yards as a team. Lyle McCombs, who was second in the Big East in rushing last season, led the attack carrying the ball 23 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. In his first start for the Huskies, Chandler Whitmer, a junior college transfer, completed 15-of-25 passes for 219 yards, but was also intercepted twice.
It was not a pleasant debut in the FBS for UMass (0-1) offensively. The Minutemen managed only 59 total yards and three first downs. Quarterback Mike Wegzyn converted just 9-of-22 for a mere 56 yards, was sacked two times and picked off once. The visitors were forced to punt 10 times in the game.
McCombs got the scoring started for UConn as he pounded the ball in from the one-yard line to give the Huskies a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Chad Christen made it 13-0 with a pair of field goals in the second quarter. The first was a 36-yard kick with 9:04 remaining in the period and the second a 47-yarder with less than three minutes left in the half.
UConn wasn't done though as Dwayne Gratz grabbed an interception of Massachusetts' Wegzyn and galloped 37 yards for a touchdown later in the quarter. With the extra point the lead for the Huskies ballooned to 20-0 heading into halftime.
After scoring a touchdown on both offense and defense in the first half, UConn's special teams got in on the action in the second half. Taylor Mack recovered a blocked punt in the end zone, stretching the lead to 27-0 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.
The next UConn touchdown came by more conventional means as Scott McCummings crossed the goal line from a yard out to push the Huskies ahead 34-0 with 8:24 left in the fourth quarter. A 19-yard field goal from Christen later in the quarter capped off the scoring.
Despite the score, the Minutemen's defense actually played well, forcing three Connecticut turnovers, included a spectacular interception in which defensive back Darren Thellen jumped out of bounds to tip an errant pass from Whitmer back into play where it was picked off by Tom Brandt.
This was the 72nd clash between the two squads who first met in 1897. The last meeting came in 1999 when Massachusetts downed Connecticut, 62-20.
08/30 23:47:29 ET
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