EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — After consecutive losing seasons, this was not the way Paul Pasqualoni wanted to open his third year at Connecticut.
Towson running back Terrance West ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers won for the first time against an opponent from the bowl subdivision, upsetting UConn 33-18 in the season opener for both teams Thursday night.
They dominated the Huskies, putting up 393 yards while holding UConn to just 287.
"We didn't play well, and I don't know of an area we did play well in," Pasqualoni said.
Quarterback Peter Athens threw for 192 yards and another score and running back Sterlin Phifer caught a 23-yard touchdown and ran for another.
West carried the ball a career-high 36 times, and broke the 100-yard mark for the 12th time in his career. The junior's two fourth-quarter scores put the game away.
"From the beginning of the game I saw we could handle them," West said. "We were prepared for this event today."
Receiver Shakim Phillips had two touchdown catches for Connecticut, and Geremy Davis caught five balls for 100 yards in the losing effort.
The Huskies, who are coming off back-to-back 5-7 seasons, had not lost to an FCS team since 2001, when they were making the transition from Division I-AA to Division I.
"It hurts," said UConn linebacker Yawin Smallwood. "We've been working hard all offseason. We have to pick our heads up."
The Tigers were up 13-10 at halftime and trailed just once, at 7-0.
The Huskies were held scoreless in the second half of this one until quarterback Chandler Whitmer hit Phillips with a 21-yard touchdown pass with 3:29 left in the game that cut the deficit to 26-18.
But on UConn's next opportunity, freshman Brian Lemelle fumbled a punt. West, who now has 46 career touchdowns, then put the finishing touches on the upset, scoring from 5 yards out with 16 seconds left in the game.
Connecticut took an early lead after a 92-yard drive that was set up with a diving interception by safety Obi Melifonwu. The redshirt freshman was pressed into a starting role when Andrew Adams went down in camp with a shoulder injury. Nine plays after the pick, Whitmer found Phillips breaking toward the left corner for a 31-yard catch-and-run.
Towson answered in just four plays. Phifer swung out of the backfield on a delay pattern and Athens found him wide open for a 23-yard touchdown.