EAST HARTFORD – For the second straight game, the University of South Florida football team didn’t score an offensive touchdown. Turns out, the Bulls didn’t need one to capture its second consecutive contest.
USF kicker Marvin Kloss hit two field goals and Aaron Lynch returned a fumble 44 yards for a touchdown to spoil Homecoming at Rentschler Field as South Florida beat Connecticut, 13-10 in an American Athletic Conference contest before 37,861 fans.
Kloss’ 44-yard field goal with just over four minutes left capped a more than seven minute fourth-quarter drive, and was the game winner. He has converted on nine consecutive attempts, including a 47-yarder in the first half.
UConn junior running back Lyle McCombs had a career-high 164 yards rushing and a touchdown for Connecticut (0-5, 0-1 AAC), which has lost five straight games to open a season for the first time since 1977. The loss spoiled the debuts of freshman quarterback Tim Boyle, who completed 15-of-43 for 149 yards, and interim coach T.J. Weist, who took over the UConn program two weeks ago.
“We had every opportunity,” UConn head coach T.J Weist said. “The defense played a great game; they didn’t allow an offensive touchdown. They gave us every opportunity on field position and gave us a chance to play plays. It’s disappointing that we didn’t. Tim Boyle played exceptional game for a true freshman. He made a couple of throws early that could have been the difference in the game. If our guys make those catches, it’s a different game.”
The Bulls (2-4, 2-0 AAC) were playing without injured quarterback Steve Bench and starting running back Marcus Shaw, who had been averaging more than 110 yards a game rushing before suffering a leg injury a week ago. USF won despite being outgained in yardage, 356-228.
The Bulls winning drive went 65 yards in 13 plays. USF just missed out on a touchdown when Steven Bravo-Brown got his hands on a 26-yard pass, but dropped the ball in the end zone.
UConn, which was held scoreless in the second half, got the ball back twice more. They drove to midfield with six seconds left, but a Hail Mary on the game’s final play fell incomplete in the end zone.
“We have to come back as a football team and evaluate this film,” Weist said. “There’s no right answer. There’s no reinventing anything. We have to play better.
“I wish I was standing here saying we did execute,” he said. “I told our team there’s not much we’re going to change from a format standpoint. We came out and ran the football and established the run. I thought we ran it well. I thought Tim stepped up and showed maturity and poise. He made some throws and some decisions that were pretty good for a true freshman. I think we’ll keep moving forward with him and keep getting better.”
For South Florida, Darius Tice ran for 69 yards and Willie Davis added 38 filling in for the injured Shaw. Senior quarterback Bobby Eveld completed eight of 28 passes for 106 yards.
Boyle, who turned 19 last week, got off to a slow first start for the Huskies. He hit his initial throw, a 10-yard completion to wide receiver Geremy Davis, then missed his next seven, including two that would have been touchdowns, but went off the arms of his receivers.
USF’s defense then got its third touchdown in three weeks. Ryne Giddins knocked the ball away from Boyle, and Lynch picked up the loose ball and rumbled 44-yards to make it 7-3 late in the first quarter.
It took the Huskies just four plays to retake the lead as McCombs weaved his way for a 52-yard touchdown run, his longest run of the season and longest since 2011. The junior’s previous rushing high this season had been 76 yards. He had 135 in the first half of this one.
Kloss, who hit four field goals last week, capped a six-play second quarter drive to score 10-10. The junior has five field goals of 47 yards or more on the year, a new school record.
UConn had a chance to take the lead in the third quarter, but Julius Forte blocked a 47-yard field goal attempt, the second week in a row that USF has blocked a kick.
Connecticut’s running game came into the game averaging less than 46 yards a game, but had 207 on Saturday. Neither team could move the ball, especially in the second half. They combined for 16 punts during the game.
NOTES: Jones has five career interceptions for the Huskies. … Julian Campennis and Sharmar Stephen each had their first sacks of the season for the Huskies. … Linebacker Yarwin Smallwood had his third tackle for a loss in the fourth quarter. He has 20½ tackles for a loss in his UConn career.
Material from UConn sports information used to compile this report.
South Florida 13, UConn 10
At East Hartford
South Florida (2-4) 7 3 0 3 — 13
UConn (0-5) 3 7 0 0 — 10
C: Chad Christen 32 FG, 8:43
S: Aaron Lynch 44 fumble recovery (Marvin Kloss kick), 1:33
C: Lyle McCombs 52 run (Christen kick), 14:48
S: Kloss 47 FG, 11:50
S: Kloss 44 FG, 4:03