BOSTON – On a rainy night at Fenway Park, UConn’s offensive efforts began relatively well. The Huskies capped a nine-play, 61-yard effort on their first drive with a 50-yard field goal from Michael Tarbutt, and moved the ball against Boston College with scattered success throughout the first quarter.
Quarterback David Pindell was sharp in the opening quarter, completing seven of his 12 passes for 127 yards and an interception, the result of a spectacular play from a BC defender.
Then everything flipped. Pindell started missing open passes, UConn’s offensive line began to repeatedly collapse and the game spiraled out of control as Boston College ran away with a 39-16 win over the Huskies after crushing them 30-0 last year in Chestnut Hill.
“Well, what they did was they took David [Pindell] away, They put a guy out there and didn’t let him run the ball. And then what happened is they forced us to hand the ball off, and we didn’t get a whole lot of movement,” UConn head coach Randy Edsall said after the game.”
Pindell, who appeared poised in the game’s early moments, had a rough night. The transfer from Lackawanna Community College, starting his third game since Bryant Shirreffs suffered a concussion, missed multiple open targets and threw two picks in BC territory, one of which was returned for a 65-yard touchdown.
“We just got to do a better job of executing the plays that we had, and a lot of that is on me, stepping into my throws and being on the same page as the receivers. A couple of those picks, we just weren’t on the same page,” Pindell said.
Pindell finished with 241 yards on 14-for-33 passing, and ran for just 47 yards on 17 attempts. Running back Kevin Mensah ran into a similar wall as UConn was overwhelmed at the line of scrimmage in a game that Edsall said Tuesday would be the “most physical test we get all year.”
“That didn’t go as planned,” Edsall said.
Boston College running back A.J. Dillon, a true freshman that flipped his commitment from Michigan to BC in December, absolutely dominated UConn on the ground.
The New London native carried 24 times for 200 yards, including a remarkable 53-yard touchdown run down the left sideline, on which he carried a gaggle of UConn defenders several yards before barely reaching the ball over the goal line.
“I’ve always been told, even like from high school, just playing running back, [that] over time, you start to wear down defenses. No matter who you are, no matter what defense you’re playing, that’s gonna happen,” Dillon said. “As long as you keep establishing that you’re there, that you’re going to fight, eventually things are going to open up.”
Saturday was the second 200-yard rushing performance of Dillon’s young career, the first 200-yard day by a rusher against UConn since Oct. 22, 2005. On that day, it was Ray Rice of Rutgers, who went on to a successful NFL career for the Baltimore Ravens.
“He’s a good player, he’s a young player, props off to him, but we didn’t do our best job against that team, and we need to do our best job in order to win the game,” UConn linebacker Luke Carrezola said after the game.
Take me out to the (foot)ball game
Saturday night’s game was played under the lights at Fenway Park, the home of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox. The usual baseball diamond was replaced by a football field, with one end zone wedged between the two dugouts and the other situated in right center field.
With the field uncomfortably close to the first base line, both teams were forced to sit side-by-side on the same sideline, affecting substitution patterns.
Saturday night was a UConn home game, as the Huskies elected to move the site from Rentschler Field to Boston to participate in the Fenway Gridiron Series. Both teams had plenty of fans in the stands, but the Eagles fans had plenty more to cheer about.