Thursday, September 29, 2016

No. 6/7 Houston Cougars go to 5-0 in 2016 by downing UConn 42-14

Photo by Darla Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2016 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (September 29, 2016) The No. 6/7 Houston Cougars avenged their 2015 loss to the Connecticut Huskies with a 42-14 win over their American Athletic Conference rival at TDECU Stadium in Houston on Thursday, September 29, 2016. With the win, the Cougars move to 5-0 on the season, and 2-0 in conference play as the Huskies drop to 2-3, with a 0-2 conference mark.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Cougars exploded for 28 points in the second quarter to take 28-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. Houston quarterback Greg Ward, Jr. threw for two of the first half touchdowns and rushing of a third. Forty seconds into the second half, the senior for Tyler, Texas, kept the ball and beat a 30-yard path for the end zone to put Houston on the board. He followed that up nine minutes later with a three-yard pass to Tyler McCloskey for the Cougars' third touchdown. He added the fourth Houston TD with a short 15-yard pass to Steven Dunbar with 1:37 remaining in the half. Dillon Birden go in on the scoring assault with a one-yard run at the 9:11 mark. The Huskies lone score came in the first half  on 62-yard pass from Bryant Shirreffs to Noel Thomas. The Huskies added a second touchdown late in the game to close out scoring/

Ward added to Houston's score three minutes, thirteen minutes into the third quarter with a 10-yard run to cap a nine-play, 74-yard drive. He added TD number six seven minutes later on a four-yard pass to Linell Bonner, and left the game early in the fourth quarter with a career-high 389 yards passing; completing 32-of-38 passes for three touchdowns.
Photo by Darla Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved

Last season, the Cougars fell to the Huskies by the score of 20-17 in Hartford. The loss was the only blemish on the Cougars, and head coach Tom Herman's, record in 2015. Houston had won 19 of their last 20 games and are riding an eight-game winning streak dating back to November 27, 2015 where they downed No. 16 Navy by the score of 52-31. After the game, Herman discussed the game with the press. 

"I’m proud of our team for responding. I really thought the first couple drives on offense we tried to get our feet wet. There were a couple first downs, nothing really to speak of. We got it rolling in the second quarter. The defense showed up very stout against the run. Obviously in situations where our offense scores 25 to 38 points and a team has to live throwing the football, we have to do a better job. I was disappointed in that. Part of that is on the secondary, but as always part of that is on the pass rush as well. We could’ve done a better job there. The offense though, no turnovers, 5-for-5 in the red zone and 8-for-16 on third down was a good night. We have to do a better job as we get our twos and threes in, especially against really good people like Connecticut, and especially on defense we have to do a better job of not looking so sloppy and silly out there. But overall, I’m very proud of the way our guys responded. It’s the fourth game in 19 days and to come out with that kind of energy and juice was good to see.” 

The Cougars own the longest winning streak by a non-power 5 team against power 5 opponents with five consecutive wins over the last the seasons. Houston now owns wins over OKlahoma, Florida State, Vanderbilt, Louisville and Pittsburgh in its last five power 5 matchups. The Cougars will look to extend their streak to to six when they host Louisville on November 17. Nest up for Houston is a Saturday, October 8 matchup against Navy at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland.

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