UConn freshman kicker Bobby Puyol made the first field goal of his career, a 40-yarder to give the Huskies their first points. That was set up when Whitmer found Michael Smith open over the middle for a 51-yard pass from the UConn 24-yard line. UConn's regular kicker, Chad Christen, sat out the game with a hip injury.
Whitmer started for UConn despite being knocked out of last week's win over Louisville with a head injury. He left this game in the third quarter after taking a shot from Greg Blair on a trick play and hitting his head on the turf.
Whitmer said he blacked out on the play, but wanted to return.
"I think just being back so soon, being hit again, they just didn't want to risk anything," he said.
McEntee, a senior walk-on, replaced Whitmer and completed the 15-play, 69-yard drive which ended with a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Lyle McCombs. It was the first second-half touchdown in a Big East game for UConn and brought the Huskies to within four at 21-17.
McCombs finished with 21 carries for 60 yards.
But a bad pass by McEntee that was intercepted by Drane set up another Bearcats touchdown, a 4-yard run by George Winn, his 12th touchdown this season. That came after Tony Miliano had made it a seven-point game, hitting a 38-yard field goal with 12 minutes left. His 42-yarder with 6 minutes left put a bow on the game.
McEntee finished with 73 yards passing and two interceptions.
Connecticut, which also lost to Cincinnati last season with bowl eligibility on the line, finished its second consecutive 5-7 season since Pasqualoni took over the program from Randy Edsall. The Huskies had been 3-6 before winning consecutive games against Pittsburgh and Louisville.
"We worked hard these last couple of weeks trying to make sure we were eligible for a bowl game, and came up a little bit short," said cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. "I feel that's what's been happening all season."