UConn football used another strong defensive showing to grind out a 7-3 win on the road against Tulane. The win marked the second road victory this season and the second under head coach Bob Diaco.
The Huskies (5-5, 3-3 The American) took the lead and never looked back after Jamar Summers’ 67-yard interception return for a touchdown. Summers intercepted Tanner Lee with 2:28 left in the first quarter to put the Huskies up 7-0. The interception was Summers’ team-high sixth of the season.
The Green Wave (2-7, 1-5 the American) answered 6:32 into the second quarter with an 11-play, 41-yard drive that ended with a 37-yard field goal from Andrew DiRocco. The field goal was DiRocco’s longest of the season and made it a 7-3 game.
After three straight three-and-outs for the Huskies, quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and the rest of the UConn offense had two opportunities to score in the final five minutes of the first half but couldn’t extend their lead. The Huskies ran eight plays for 38 yards on their last two drives of the half, with the teams heading into the locker room after an interception by Tulane’s Darion Monroe.
On their second drive of the third quarter, the Huskies squandered their best scoring chance of the game in the Tulane red zone. After running back Arkeel Newsome ran for two yards on fourth-and-1 to put the Huskies on the Tulane 23 yard line, Shirreffs scrambled for seven yards to put the Huskies on Green Wave 17 yard line.
Shirreffs threw a play-action pass to a wide-open Alec Bloom, but Bloom dropped the pass on third-and-1 and forced the Huskies to kick a field goal. Parry Nickerson blocked Bobby Puyol’s 34-yard field goal attempt to keep it a 7-3 game.
Both teams had trouble dealing with the rainy conditions in New Orleans. Tulane and UConn combined for just 367 yards of total offense and only 187 passing yards. Shirreffs finished the night 8-19 with 81 yards and an interception, while Lee went 13-40 for 106 yards.
The Green Wave couldn’t capitalize on the blocked kick, punting after six plays to give the Huskies their best field position of the day at Tulane’s 43 yard line. The Huskies would return the favor with Justin Wain’s seventh punt of the night. Wain finished the night with 11 punts for an average of 36.6 yards.
After seven-straight drives ending with punts for both teams to open up the fourth quarter, Wain punted once again for his 11th and final punt of the night, with the Green Wave getting the ball on their own five yard line with 46 seconds left. Lee converted on fourth-and-10 with a 22-yard pass to Trey Scott for a first down but didn’t make any more progress, sealing the Huskies’ fifth win of the season.
The Huskies are now one win away from their first bowl game since 2011 with two games left against nationally-ranked Houston and Temple.