It took 10 games and nearly three months but the Huskies finally got their first win of the season. And like everything else this fall, it wasn't easy. Trailing Temple 21-0 at halftime, UConn scored 28 unanswered points to pull out the 28-21 victory and move to 1-9 on the year.
The scoring began with a 33-yard Geremy Davis touchdown catch early in the third quarter. Two running scores (a four-yarder from Max DeLorenzo and a one-yarder from quarterback Casey Cochran) followed, and Yawin Smallwood's 59-yard pick-six with just over four minutes to go proved to be the difference.
So what did interim coach T.J. Weist tell his team at halftime when it looked like another loss in the making?
"It wasn't anything special," Weist admitted. "Honestly, they just had to come together and play the game they know to play. Going through this all season, I said to them let's get back to work, let's start over. We have the ball to start the second half so let us forget the past, and let's make some plays to win this game. Everyone came together and did it one step at a time, and that's what you need to do."
It's pretty much the same message Weist has been preaching since late September, when he took over for Paul Pasqualoni. This time, mercifully, the outcome was different.
"I just can't say enough how proud we are with this team," Weist said. "Finally playing real football in the second half, our players came out determined to win, make plays, and play smart football. They were able to make things happen. It came down to the heart and soul of this team, and it really showed because we were able to come back. We haven't done that all season. Being down 21-0 in the first half, we beat ourselves. Grinding it out and playing smart football was what we wanted to do. They came out in the second half giving it their all, and so I give this win to them. We finally came out on top."
As for Smallwood's game-winning interception, Weist said "He is the team captain, he's one of our best players. He should be making big plays for us and that is exactly what we needed."
More Weist: "The whole game was a crucial situation for us, we needed a win. It wasn't necessarily desperation, but everything needs to be performed well. [The team] finally woke up and made the decision that this was going to be the game that we win. He stepped up and made those key plays, which really brought everything together for us. We had to make it happen, and I'm just so proud of [the team]."
Not only did the Huskies get in the win column, they also gave athletic director Warde Manuel something to celebrate.
"Very proud of the effort the team, the coaches," Manuel said, according to the Hartford Courant. "I've said, all throughout this time, this team has never given up. We've made mistakes but it wasn't because of a lack of effort. So, standing here now, all I can do is smile and tell the guys how proud I am of what they accomplished."
The Huskies have two games left in the season; They host Rutgers Saturday and then face Memphis seven days later.