Oct. 10—AMHERST, Mass. — It was another afternoon of what could've been for the UConn football team.
The Huskies saw their halftime lead evaporate in the third, and Ellis Merriweather's touchdown run early in the fourth put UMass up for good as the Minutemen topped UConn 27-13 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The win snapped UMass' 16-game losing streak dating back to a 37-29 win over Akron on Sept. 28, 2019. Meanwhile, UConn (0-7) has now lost 11 in a row and 17 of its last 18 games.
"Those guys did a great job," said defensive line coach Dennis Dottin-Carter, who was filling in for interim head coach Lou Spanos Saturday. "Offensively, defensively, the did a great job with their gameplan. They put their guys in position to be successful, and took advantage when the opportunities were there."
Spanos missed Saturday's game due to a positive COVID test Friday.
UMass got the ball to start the second half down 10-7. The Minutemen had a 1st-and-goal from the seven, but had to settle for Cameron Carson's 21-yard field goal with 9:27 left in the third.
The Minutemen seemed to be in business again on their next drive thanks to a 31-yard reception by Josiah Johnson that brought the ball into UConn territory. But Zamar Wise was dropped for a loss on 4th-and-2 to give the Huskies the ball back at the 31.
On third down, UConn quarterback Steven Krajewski was hit as he threw. The ball shot up into the air and seemed like it'd be an easy interception for the hosts. But one of Krajewski's linemen pestered the defender, who missed the ball.
Joe McFadden then lined up for a 52-yard field goal, but missed wide left.
Late in the third, Brady Olson found Eric Collins for a 49-yard pass, giving the Minutemen a 1st-and-10 from UConn's 16. UMass had to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Cameron Carson four seconds into the fourth, taking its first lead since it was 7-0 in the process.
Following a mishandled kickoff return by Aaron Turner, the Huskies started the ensuing drive on their own five. On second down, Krajewski's pass was intercepted by Bryce Watts to give the Minutemen a 1st-and-goal from the six.
Three plays later, Merriweather's one-yard run put the hosts up by 20-10 with 12:46 left in the game.
The Huskies seemingly scored a touchdown on the next drive when Krajewski found tight end Brandon Niemenski in the endzone on third-down. But Niemenski dropped the ball as he fell to the ground. McFadden's 20-yard field goal cut the deficit to 20-13 with 10:07 to play.
Undeterred, UMass embarked on an 8-play, 78-yard drive highlighted by 28-yard pass from Olson to Onuma Dieke and a 22-yard rush from Merriweather. Wise finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run on an option keeper with 4:54 to go.
The Minutemen got the ball back when UConn freshman Tui Faumuina-Brown fumbled the onside kick attempt. The hosts were able to chew another 1:33 off the clock before having to punt.
Keelan Marion returned the kick 45 yards, starting UConn in UMass territory.
On 4th-and-8, Uchenna Ezewike sacked Krajewski at midfield, dashing any comeback hopes for the Huskies.
The Minutemen jumped out to an early lead Saturday when Merriweather scored from nine yards out with 8:11 left in the first. He finished with 171 yards on 39 carries and two touchdowns, his first of the season.
But UConn responded. Krajewski found Marion for a 34-yard score to tie it 56 seconds later, and McFadden's 38-yard field goal gave the Huskies a 10-7 lead with 1:56 left in the quarter.
UMass showed signs of life late in the first half when Donte Lindsey intercepted Krajewski's third-down pass, giving the Minutemen a 1st-and-10 from UConn's 40.
Aided by a UConn facemask, UMass drove to the eight. Olson's pass to Rico Arnold in the endzone was overthrown, giving the team one more chance before halftime.
Carson's 26-yard field goal as time expired missed wide left, keeping the Huskies in front entering the break.
Krajewski after an 11-for-14 first half, Krajewski finished 13-of-24 for 128 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Marion had four catches for 80 yards, including a tipped and bobbled 28-yard catch as he was falling near the sideline midway through the second quarter.
Nate Carter added 20 carries for 136 yards while Eric Watts and Jackson Mitchell each had nine tackles, with Mitchell adding a forced fumble.
Olson finished 10-of-22 for 162 yards while Collins caught three passes for 66 yards.
The Huskies welcome Yale to Pratt & Whitney Stadium Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon (CBS Sports Network).
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