By Matt Zampini, Sports Editor
Bearcats’ offense cruises
On the first defensive possession of the game, Andrew Adams intercepted Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel in the end zone and returned it to the UConn 32-yard line. It was just the fourth time all season that Cincinnati hadn’t scored on its opening possession.
Kiel and the Bearcats put that turnover behind them quickly, and the offense ran fluently for the rest of the game. Cincinnati outgained UConn on offense 425-129.
On the Bearcats’ second drive, Kiel led the team on a 14 play, 82-yard drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown pass to Nate Cole.
Kiel also had touchdown passes of two and 18 yards.
Kiel was pulled from the game with over nine minutes to play in the third quarter with the Bearcats ahead 34-0. He finished the game with three touchdown passes and 161 yards on 17-of-30 passing.
Cincinnati running back Rod Moore eclipsed 100 yards rushing on the day, running for 108 yards and a touchdown. Bobby Brown added 67 yards on the ground.
Offense struggles, but Tim Boyle era begins
Coming off a bye week, UConn had an extra week to prepare for a Cincinnati defense that allowed an average of 486 yards per game coming into Saturday night. However, the Huskies didn’t create any offense. The Huskies had just nine yards at halftime and finished the game with 129 yards and no points.
It was the first time UConn was held scoreless at home since Sept. 23, 1978 against Navy. It was the first time they were shutout overall since 2010 against Louisville.
“That is the best we have played on defense, tackled well, didn’t give up any big plays,” Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville said. “You get a shutout in college football this day and time you’ve done something.”
For the first time this season, sophomore Tim Boyle started at quarterback for the Huskies. Boyle has seen limited playing time this season serving as Chandler Whitmer’s backup.
On the night, Boyle threw for a season-high 70 yards on 13-of-21 passing.
In the second quarter, Boyle was sacked on a play where he should have thrown the ball away. Jeff Luc made the sack for the Bearcats, forcing Boyle to fumble the ball. Cincinnati made a 32-yard field goal off the turnover.
“It was tough offensively this week,” Boyle said. “We had a good game plan but it was just the execution aspect of it that we failed to do. I think it’s a good learning experience for us to go through this.”
At the start of the season, head coach Bob Diaco’s plan was to have Boyle redshirt, but once Casey Cochran discontinued his football career due to concussions, Boyle was used as Chandler Whitmer’s backup. Whitmer started the previous eight games for UConn.
Diaco believes that this season will serve as a learning experience for the young players on the team. Although not many have, he has remained positive during this 3-7 season and knows that his team will grow.
“Intangibly, we are going to get to work and grow out brotherhood from this adversity,” Diaco said. “Things are happening as they should. I believe that. This adversity is going to create an unbreakable foundation for championships in the future. There is no doubt.”