EAST HARTFORD, Conn. – The UConn Huskies needed a second-half comeback led by quarterback Bryant Shirreffs to withstand a tremendous effort by Holy Cross, as the Huskies won, 27-20, in the debut of Randy Edsall in his second stint as head coach.
Shirreffs, who had been the Huskies’ starter the past two seasons, sat behind junior David Pindell at the start of the game. But Shirreffs came off the bench in the third quarter after Holy Cross took a 20-7 lead. Shirreffs’ presence under center paid off immediately, as he led two straight touchdown drives. That gave the Huskies the lead and eventually the win, despite the Crusaders’ attempts at a comeback. Running back Nate Hopkins wrapped up the scoring for the Huskies with a fourth-quarter touchdown run.
Hopkins scored three times and rushed for 130 yards. Wide receiver Hergy Mayala caught nine passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Edsall coached UConn from 1999-2010, leading the Huskies to the Fiesta Bowl in 2011 before leaving the program for Maryland from 2011-15. Edsall spent last season with the Detroit Lions. Edsall’s victory was his 75th with the Huskies.
UConn and Holy Cross had not met since 1985 before Thursday night, and the Crusaders held the series lead entering the game. Holy Cross scored twice in the first half off UConn turnovers, as quarterback Peter Pujals directed short touchdown drives that resulted in touchdowns by Blaise Bell and Diquan Walker.
Bell caught 10 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. Walker had just 16 yards rushing, as the UConn defense held the run game down all night. Holy Cross receiver Richie DeNicola also had 10 receptions totaling 87 yards.
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