Football: Huskies outnumbered by No. 12 Wolfpack in third straight loss 

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For the past few months, head coach Jim Mora publicized the University of Connecticut football team as a Husky Revolution. Amidst a handful of injuries and multiple opponents either in or receiving votes for the AP Top 25 poll, that revolution has taken steps backward. 

For the second week in a row, the very first drive defined the game. No. 12 North Carolina State University found the endzone in less than five plays and fewer than three minutes. They only needed one as Devin Leary connected with Thayer Thomas on a 75-yard touchdown pass that got fans at Carter-Finley Stadium rocking. 

After an embarrassing shutout against the University of Michigan, UConn needed an aggressive response as soon as it touched the ball. Zion Turner showed an aggressive mindset and signs of development as he found Kevens Clercius for an 11-yard pass and then ran for 17 yards for first downs on the Huskies’ first two plays from scrimmage. Despite the hot start, the drive stalled out after UConn failed to convert a fourth-and-1 opportunity in NC State territory. 

The Wolfpack made UConn pay for its decision. Not even a second-and-13 situation stopped NC State on their second drive as Demie Sumo-Karngbaye ran for a 20-yard touchdown. Christopher Dunn nailed a 48-yard field goal to cap off the Wolfpack’s ensuing drive of the frame after moving the ball only 40 yards. NC State finished the first quarter with 197 yards of offense while the Huskies had just 12. 

The Wolfpack kept that energy going throughout the second quarter. UConn’s drive at the end of the first led to a three-and-out and NC State converted a third-and-14 on the following drive as they rolled into the endzone for their third touchdown of the game. The Wolfpack added a cherry to their strong half with a touchdown from Leary to Keyon Lesane for a two-yard score. Having scored on each of their first five drives, NC State aimed to become the second team in as many weeks to shutout the Huskies. 

UConn appeared to gain some momentum back after Brandon Bouyer-Randle grabbed his second interception of the season and returned it 31 yards with less than a minute remaining until halftime. Although they went three-and-out, Noe Ruelas made a 28-yard field goal as the Huskies scored for the first time in two weeks. For the second straight week, the Husky defense allowed over 30 points in the first half as the Wolfpack entered the intermission up 31-3. 

Despite turning the ball over on downs deep in UConn territory, NC State added another touchdown in the third quarter and scored a field goal on their ensuing drive between quarters. With the game very much out of hand, UConn turned to Cale Millen at quarterback while giving Robert Burns and Victor Rosa the rushing responsibilities. After turning the ball over on downs during their previous drive, the Huskies marched down the field and scored their first touchdown in two weeks when Rosa ran 11 yards into the endzone to cap off a 10-play, 70-yard drive. 

That became the last score of the game as the Huskies covered the spread with a 41-10 loss, their third straight game allowing 40 or more points against a power five school. 

The biggest positive the Huskies had from this game was their running unit. With Nathan Carter unavailable after injuring his shoulder against Michigan, Rosa stepped up and rushed for 43 yards on six carries while scoring a touchdown. UConn got back on track in terms of their run offense with 121 yards on the ground, it’s first time crossing the century mark since playing CCSU. 

Turner did not have many opportunities to throw the ball against the vicious Wolfpack defense, finishing with under 50 passing yards on less than 20 passing attempts for the second week in a row as he went 10/12 for 39 yards. Turner scrambled more times than not as he ran for a total of 10 yards on nine rushes. The best receiver on the field was running back Devontae Houston, who caught three receptions for 22 yards. Both Aaron Turner and Clercius caught two passes and picked up 20 yards combined. 

Regarding injuries, the sky is blue. Earlier in the week, Nigel Fitzgerald’s season abruptly ended after he injured his knee during practice. Initially considered an ACL tear, Fitzgerald later confirmed it to be an injury to his PLC (not to be confused with a PCL tear).  

During the game, Kaleb Anthony went down with a knee injury and Mora confirmed it to be a torn ACL in the postgame press conference. In five games, UConn has had at least one significant injury, whether in the passing game via Ta’Quan Roberson and Keelan Marion or in the running game with Brian Brewton. 

Defensively, Durante Jones posted a career-high 13 tackles while Malik Dixon-Williams had 11 and Jackson Mitchell had nine. The Huskies combined for two sacks and four tackles for a loss despite allowing 492 yards of total offense. 

As for the Wolfpack, Leary went 32/44 for 320 yards and four touchdowns, one of his best games of the season. Michael Allen rushed for 66 yards on 10 carries while Demie Sumo-Karngbaye picked up 49 yards with a touchdown. Four different wide receivers caught a touchdown for the Wolfpack including Thomas, who finished with 115 yards on five receptions. 

NC State’s defense took care of the rest, allowing 160 yards of total offense while recording two sacks and five tackles for a loss. Davin Vann had the greatest impact with two tackles for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble. 

The Huskies (1-4) return home to Rentschler Field and wrap up a grueling four-game gauntlet against the Fresno State University Bulldogs. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1, at 3:30 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network. 

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