EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut scored touchdowns on offense defense and special teams Thursday in spoiling Massachusett's debut as a bowl subdivision program.
Chandler Whitmer threw for 219 yards in his UConn debut and receiver Nick Williams had 143 yards in total offense as the Huskies rolled to a 37-0 win.
Connecticut's defense dominated the game, holding UMass to just 59 yards of offense and limiting the Minutemen to three first downs. UMass did not have an offensive snap in UConn territory.
The Huskies rolled up 372 yards of offense and 124 return yards
"From a defensive standpoint, I think we hit the expectation from what we thought we could get," said UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni. "Special teams, to be perfectly honest with you, exceeded my expectations a little bit."
Lyle McCombs rushed for 82 yards and a first-quarter touchdown, one of two by the offense. UConn also scored on a 37-yard interception return by cornerback Dwayne Gratz and on a blocked punt.
Chad Christen added field goals of 36, 47 and 19 yards.
This was the 72nd meeting between the two programs but the first since 1999, when both teams were Division I-AA.
"At this point they are probably a little bigger, a little faster and a little stronger," said UMass coach Charley Molnar, who also was making his head coaching debut. "In regards to FBS, we are where we need to be. We're going to be successful in it; it just didn't show tonight."
Whitmer, a sophomore transfer who threw for more than 3,000 yards in junior college last year, completed 15 of his 25 passes, but also threw two interceptions in his first game as a Division I starter.
He hit his first three passes, including a 16-yarder to Nick Williams that set up the Huskies' first score, a 1-yard plunge by McCombs that capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive.
Williams returned the next punt by the Minutemen 34 yards to the UMass 30. The 5-foot-10 speedster also had a 37-yard kickoff return and 24 yards rushing, drawing comparisons to the New England Patriots' Wes Welker.
"I do expect to be a factor in the passing game, in the rushing game and in the return game," Williams said.